Previous Letters:

Helen to Pollux, Pollux to Helen, Letters from the Kings, Helen to Theseus, Theseus to Helen.

 

Theseus has his own very rich mythology. His own challenges and adventures. He is in many ways the Athenian version of Heracles, right down to his divine heritage and the trials he faces. A parallel hero.  I hadn’t realized at all until I started doing the research that Heracles and Theseus were contemporaries and were known to team up, nevermind that they were also contemporaries (relatively speaking) of Helen.

 

There’s so little source material for his abduction of Helen (and it varies widely). Just a line here or there that he made off with her, and then her brothers took her back. It’s almost an absentminded recollection. “Oh yeah, well, you know Theseus, always making off with some pretty girl or another, it’s hardly worth noting. And there was no lasting harm.” Of course, that’s the greatest place to start when you want to write fiction– finding something that hasn’t really been explored in great detail, and seeing where it leads. It was the perfect opening!

 

Neither Theseus nor Heracles made it to the Trojan War, but they almost certainly witnessed the events leading up to that point… Well, witness maybe is too strong a word. Theseus was trapped in the underworld for a while, and Heracles had to go fish him out. Both of them, however, had sons who fought against Troy.

 

So who is this Pirithous? He’s a fellow Demi-god and king. A son of Zeus! By all appearances, he’s one of Theseus’s closest friends. Close enough that when Pirithous proposed a trip to Hades to kidnap Persephone, Theseus had no qualms about helping him out. To repay a similar kindness, perhaps?

 

Loyal Pirithous, King of Lapiths,

I have need of your help, my friend. There is no one else I can trust. I’ve come to an agreement with the princess, Helen, but her father’s preference remains with the sons of Atreus, Agamemnon and Menelaus. Helen begs my help to remove her from her father’s city so that she may become my bride. In turn, I beg for your aid in accomplishing this. As you can imagine, it must be done in secret.

There is something about this girl, Pirithous. Something more than just her beauty. She speaks with the maturity of a woman grown, though she is only just twelve. I would not marry her so young, but she says that I have no choice in the matter if I wish to keep her, and I believe she speaks the truth. I would not be able to live with myself if I turned my back on her now, and Tyndareus married her to Agamemnon. You know as well as I do that the man has no heart, and she is much too young to be subjected to his tastes.

Without your help, we are sure to be caught, and the last thing either of us wants for our people is a war in Attica. You know the armies of Lacedaemon and Mycenae will not stop just with Athens, if they come that far. They will threaten you as well in Lapiths, just for your rumored allegiance to me. Agamemnon of Mycenae wants only the excuse to spread his influence, and he will not shy away from force if it can be made to seem reasonable.

If you will help us, send word and I will meet you at the temple of my father, Poseidon, during the morning sacrifice. May the gods bless us both.

Your Sworn Friend,
Theseus, King of Athens

 

*****

 

Theseus, King of Athens,

If your intention is to steal Helen, I wouldn’t let you attempt it without my counsel. You may be the hero of Attica, but you’ve never been strong in the arts of deception. What else could be expected from one who solved his troubles from an early age with brute strength and the ability to charm women? No, you won’t be left to solve this puzzle alone, my friend. Whatever help of mine you require, I’ll be at your service.

I admit I’m surprised. By your message, it almost sounds as if Helen sought you out. I know that you managed to impress her during your introduction, but this is quickly done even for you. Does she realize what it will mean to be a wife of Theseus? Have you told her what happened to your other wives? I can’t imagine she would flee her father without good cause, but is taking her back to Athens and making her your bride really the wisest course? If you care for this girl, Theseus, perhaps she is better off even in Agamemnon’s hands than cursed by the gods in yours.

Of course I will serve you in this, as I do in all things. And I can not say I do not think you deserve a wife of such noble birth. A daughter of Zeus is a prize for any man. But think carefully what position you put her in, Theseus. Perhaps I’m wrong. Perhaps Zeus will look kindly on this match, and on you for protecting his daughter from Agamemnon’s indifference. But we both know how fickle the favor of the gods can be. Even if they allow you joy now, they may just as easily take it from you tomorrow.

I’ll be waiting at the temple, praying that at least Poseidon will smile on you for once in love.

Your Loyal Friend,
Pirithous, King of Lapiths

 

Theseus is by far my favorite character in this book. Before I’m done with revisions, I suspect that his role as a secondary character will explode into full on protagonist. Did any of your secondary plots end up taking over the entire story? Or lead you somewhere you didn’t expect to go, obliterating your careful outline?