The Olympian, Seventh Movement

The Olympian, A Tale of Ancient Hellas.  A film treatment in eight movements.

go tell the spartansSeventh Movement – The Grave: After Xerxes’ million-man army has moved on, Simonides and Theagenes descend the cliffs to the killing ground.  Exhausted, Simonides cannot resist sleep.  When he awakes, he finds that Theagenes has dug a trench “100 paces long.”  Simonides is reminded of the 12 “Labors of Herakles” and thinks of this as “the 13th Labor of Herakles.”  Together, they carry the Spartan bodies to the grave Theo has created with his raw, bloodied hands using the remnants of a Spartan shield, his hands wrapped in rags like they were once wrapped in himantes, the boxing gloves of an Olympic champion.  When they have buried the bodies, Theo sleeps.  As he rests, the poet composes his famous epitaph “Go tell the Spartans …” and chisels it into a stone marker they place above the grave the next morning.  “We embraced one another for the first and final time,” I wrote, “… he bowed respectfully, turned and walked east …”

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