That same night Leandro, son of Anaximander, dreamed that the fickle and primeval god of love hit his ass with an arrow while humming a happy tune. But by all the gods that what was lodged in his left buttock was not, for sure, a sweet dart from Eros! What was nailed there was as large as the statue of Athena Parthenon, an attacker who had torn his flesh, and that now was making him to stay there, ridiculously prostrated displaying his back while backing painfully towards his own companions.
He should not have left the safety of the phalanx, he knew it, but his head was overheated after an hour of fighting under the harsh summer Helios. Archers could annoy enough, by Zeus, yes, but he, like an hoplite, could not afford to pursue those Locrians rabbits, charging as he was with thirty kilos of warlike array. That was a task for their Thracian peltasts, those tattooed northern barbarians who mourned the birth of a child and laughed when they buried him. But they had not appeared anywhere, probably because they were drunk, and as soon as the Thebans started throwing their shields and running away, and although their officers shouted their heads off trying to make their soldiers keep their formation, he simply could not control himself and rushed away to hunt Boeotians, moment in which Athena had stopped assisting him, and in which that arrow, surely guided by some damned demon, had reached him in such an unseemly place.
-Leandro!- shouted his friend Nearchus, while grabbing his right arm moving him to safety in the arms of his companions. – Looking for the rearguard, my friend? Because it seems as like yours, at least, has already been found! – The entire row of soldiers burst out laughing with that joke, and not even he could stop himself to do so, despite the searing pain of his wound.
-By all that’s holy, Nearchus, I swear that Ares is mocking me- replied Leandro, already safe behind the battalion, chuckling as he removed his helmet suffocating, kneeling and trying, unsuccessfully, to better see the prank that had been done on his back. Luckily, the victorious Nike clearly tipped the battle’s balance towards the Athenians, and just after a few minutes Phinehas, the teacher, and Athanasius, the doctor, were already there, besides him. Those two, along with his close friend Nearchus, helped the wounded to lay on the green meadow growing on the banks of the river beside which the troop had camped, and once there they removed the breastplate of flax and the chiton from his body, put aside the perizoma with which he used to cover his private parts, and then started washing the accumulated blood and extracting the arrow.
The wound was not serious, but it was cumbersome, and required some time. Meanwhile, the battle yonder finished at last, and soon most of the warriors broke ranks and went close to the stream to drink, chill and cool. There they met with Leandro, lying very funny given the comical nature of his wound, and soon the meadow became a party, with his countrymen encouraging and teasing him at the same time.
Did whimsical Tique wanted that, being it an army of neighbors and citizens, Methodius, the notorious sculptor, walked his way from the battle to the very same place where Leandro was laying, and that, by doing so, he noticed soon the wounded lying surrounded by the crowd. Methodius was nearing fifty already, but he kept intact his great artistic skills, and besides he fancied to watch the beautiful bodies of the young, which often used to do in Athens, in the arena, whether looking for new lovers or for new models. For one reason or the other, or perhaps for both of them, he directed his steps towards the wounded, and stood gazing awhile. “Leandro is beautiful”, thought the virtuoso carver: He thought he must be in his twenties and, by the sweet Hebe, he enjoyed a healthy body, proportioned and athletic. He had a tanned skin, beautiful dark curls, and a body that could not be considered at all hairy. Perhaps his face was not particularly Apollonian, true, though it was not unpleasant at all also. But the best was, without a doubt, the place where he had been wounded, a physical attribute worthy of Hyacinth or Ganymede, especially highlighted at that moment given the curious position that, by necessity, he had had to adopt in order to be helped, leaning sideways as he was on that meadow, almost naked, with his right arm holding his head and his buttocks upturned in order to receive the required medical care from his peers.
“By the ambiguous Dionisio, everything seems to move around my backside lately,” thought meanwhile the poor and deluded Leandro. “Last night Eros visits me in dreams, but only to aim at it, and as if it was some kind of prophecy now, when I went back home, I will be remembered as ‘Leandro, the warrior who received an arrow on his buttocks fighting near Plataea.’” The young man could not help remembering sarcastically how, since he was a child, that part of his body had made him quite popular among some intimates of his mother, and how as well, in his times of ephebos, had received more than one or two compliments and had been mocked by their colleagues while instructing on weapons. And he was still like that, wondering what they might have on Olympus with his ass to have made it become gradually the center of his life, when the illustrious Methodius, the great sculptor of his polis, bent over him, watching with obvious care that part of his body, and proposed him, friendly and respectfully, to serve him as a model for his next sculpture.
A few months later, in the middle of the Agora, in Athens, a marble young man laid imitating the same pose Leandro had had to take by force on the banks of that stream when he laid after having been shot by an arrow. The statue had not his face, as Methodius had decided to switch it by another most favoured model, as he had decided too to remove the arrow and the wound and give his character an expression of serenity instead of pain, but the body was his, same as the pose, as well as those buttocks the sculpture was now showing, shamelessly, to all citizens who passed by that place.
Leandro remembered having thought then, as he was laying on that meadow, that he was yet within the strange and irreverent dream with Eros he had had the night before, and even now still was not sure whether he had awakened completely. After all, till that very moment he was used to have an anonymous life, and nowadays he enjoyed a fruitful friendship with Methodius, a good reward in cash for his services as a model, and the satisfaction of knowing that all the polis of Athens knew that this beautiful marble body was his, although the title chosen by the author had been “Young Perseus at Sefiros, or wounded hoplite on the banks of the Asopos river”.
–I think the gods have been very generous with you, Leandro- corroborated his friend Ephialtes.- Ares wanted the wound to be in your buttock, doubtless a safe place among all those which could have been chosen, Asclepius wanted it to heal without complications, Hebe wanted you to enjoy a very artistic ass since you were a child, and Apollo and the Muses inspired Methodius at the very moment he saw you to make this wonderful sculpture.
–Who knows if he also was inspired by Eros when he saw him there, lying with his ass in the air, as a provocative eronemos– added the jocular Nearchus.- Anyway guys, you should have seen him while he was backing toward our lines, with that arrow in his buttock, recoiling as good as he could, or rather, half recoiling, because by then he only had half of his ass…-
Everyone laughed and continued watching the work the illustrious Methodius, justly proud of it, had decided to exhibit there for a few days, allowing the entire polis to admire it. Leandro, however, felt melancholy.
-By the sweet Aphrodite guys, what I would really like is that, instead of the dirty bolt from a Locrian, what hit me in that battlefield would have been the always unpredictable Eros, as it was in my strange dream, and then that the same God had released another arrow of theirs to one specific person I know- moaned Leandro, earning a pat on his back from Ephialtes.
–Do not despair, my friend- replied his friend plaintively, knowing what was worrying him- Gods will is intricate, and their methods always seem incomprehensible to us, mere humans.
That same afternoon Androcles, the shipowner, crossed the Agora accompanied by his wife Agatha and his beautiful young daughter Eunice. They came all the way from the port of Piraeus, where they lived, and were heading the temple of Hera in order to ask the goddess for a good husband for their girl who, at the age of 17, was already taking too long to get married. In such an important occasion, one of the few in which women were allowed to leave the gynaeceum, both mother and daughter were captivated and distracted by each and every single one of the things they saw, delaying the father who, as an open and tolerant man, consented, allowing his females in rummaging, at least once, in the matters relating the outside world. In doing so, the whole family went through the Agora, and there they suddenly found Methodius’ beautiful sculpture. The three of them stood staring for a while, dumbfounded, but while the husband and his wife were recreated in a mainly aesthetic way, the daughter, strangely altered, suddenly asked: -Father, you know who he is?
–I’ve heard say that except for the face it’s Leandro, son of Anaximander- said his father shamelessly. –Methodius took him as a model when we fought near Plataea. The young man had just been wounded by an arrow in his buttocks, Methodius was just passing by and…
–Listen husband – said his wife- isn’t that Leandro happens to be one of our daughter’s suitors?
Both parents suddenly silent, looked at each other and then, moved by the same spring, turned to their daughter. The girl, without even realizing it, had her beautiful and almond-shape eyes fixed on the generous male shapes of that alleged marbled Perseus, her cheeks flushing at the time a strange smile started showing up on her mouth.
–Let’s best get out of here- ordered the annoyed father, -the girl still has to beg Hebe and Hera, is not the time for her to even think on Aphrodite.
That night, and many more that followed, Eros visited Eunice in dreams, rewarding her repeatedly with a sight of that hard and burly body and ass, that linked since then to the face of the young Leandro, who she had seen once before by chance while walking down the street arm to arm with her father.
A few weeks later Androcles organised a series of dinners to which he invited, of course separately, his daughter’s many suitors. As a benevolent head of his family he allowed his wives to be present at the beginning of each meal, and he even allowed Eunice herself to be there and to be formally introduced to her gallants, always in his own presence, of course.
Night after night Eunice behaved politely and courteously during the soirees, but without showing any real interest, all to his father’s regret, who was always interested in hearing and knowing the opinion and feelings of his beloved and respected only daughter.
Soon, however, it was Leandro´s turn to visit the house, and everyone in that house immediately realized how that name seemed to affect strangely the girl because, for the very first time, she spent the whole previous day feeling nervous, and at night he left her room radiating such beauty that even his own father was enthralled.
However, it was at the time in which she was being formally introduced to him that the miracle was wrought: at first she walked towards him shyly looking down when Eros, suddenly, made her remember again that beautiful marbled ass she had met in the Agora. This thought, as libidinous and cheerful as unexpected, came into her head so spontaneously, and made the girl smile spontaneous and casually. And as if she was Aphrodite herself, while doing so she took such a sudden expression of charm and sensuality that the single look she dedicated to her suitor was intense enough to show to a surprised Leandro, son of Anaximander, the unquenchable desire that had been born between them.
“After all,” thought the young man, smiling when shortly after Eunice had retreated back to the gynaeceum, “that arrow that pierced my flesh in the battle might be a dart from Eros after all”.
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