Ten years ago, I had completed my first manuscript, The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas and had placed it confidently in the hands of a prominent agent in NYC. The Olympian was not a retelling of the stand of the 300 Spartans at Thermopylae, but the incident plays prominently in the final chapters of the book.
With the battle concluded, Theagenes and Simonides watch the Persian host march through the pass from their hidden perch atop the cliffs.
“Midway through the third day, the last of the Persian host was gone, and a rag tag assemblage of carts followed that moved haphazardly and without the discipline and organization of the armed men who marched before it. Three days it took for the behemoth to pass through Thermopylae ….”
As I begin earnest research on my new project following the publication of my sixth novel, Gaspar, Another Tale of the Christ in August, I am reading The Extermination of the American Bison published in 1889 by William T. Hornaday, the Superintendent of the National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C. In his book, Hornaday recounts a personal letter he received from a Col. R.I. Doge who describes a vast herd of buffalo he saw on his travels west of the Mississippi River.
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus tells of the million-man army that the 300 Spartans faced. Multiply that by four and you get an idea of the vast number of buffalo in this single herd that graced the American landscape in the 19th century before Euro-Americans determined that it was in the best interests of American Manifest Destiny to exterminate these beautiful creatures.