Priam went out to the terrace of his luxurious palace and leaned against a wall to look at his beautiful city, that uproar of nearly identical buildings crowded into a shapeless mass of mud that reached until the sea. That was his particular money factory, and had worked at full capacity for almost ten years, having made him immensely rich, him and his entire family.
(read the first part of this story here)
However,lately both offspring and businesses had made him feel quite worried: Paris, whom he had cited in that terrace, and whom he could at least still count on, had taken his love of luxury and beauty to unhealthy extremes, and both he and his wife Helena had become the talk of the tabloids because of their eccentricities, their wild and dissolute life and their continual and mutual infidelities. Hector, meanwhile, had had the same destiny as the Achaean Achilles, a body and a mind both ruined by unbridled vices that he himself had helped to cultivate all over that city, being nowadays good only for getting from his bed to a party and from a party back to his bed, bed where he was laying now, drunk as usual. As if that were not enough, the business formula that had given him such good results, consisting on attracting more and more and more people every year always offering the same easy and cheap fun, seemed to have stopped working. The Achaeans began to feel tired of his city, finding newer and cheaper destinations across the Mediterranean, and he did not know what else to offer them in order to make them come to his kingdom and keep spending their money unconcernedly.
In these he was when a door suddenly opened behind him, and after it appeared his son Paris, resolutely walking to meet him as he crossed the huge terrace. The relief the father felt to see his son, however, soon dissipated when he saw behind him another of his descendants, his rebellious daughter Cassandra, which undoubtedly augured an imminent confrontation. Cassandra, who was said to possess the skills of divination, was the only one of his progeny that had deliberately refused to take any advantage of the business of the real estate boom and nightlife that spread all over the city of Troy, and had been all those years arguing with his father and siblings, repeating to them that with that wild growth, away from any long-term planning, the future of all Ilium was being compromised. Still yet, no one really listened to Cassandra, except the few members of an association for sustainable development which she had founded, because the truth is that almost nobody in that city really looked beyond their own business, which were invariably linked to tourism and that copious river of money that, for almost ten years, had been arriving every summer aboard Greek ships.
When father and son hugged and kissed Paris, reading the thoughts of his father, said smilingly. “Dad, I have an idea to revitalize tourism in this city.” But when father and daughter hugged and kissed Cassandra, who already knew his brother´s plans, said grave and seriously, as always: “Father, that idea will finally put an end to this city.”
-It is all about making up a festival, coming across whichever excuse we might have, and organize the largest and wildest show anybody could even imagine- followed Paris, capturing immediately the attention of the king. –I’ve been thinking it together with Aeneas, the owner of the hotel chain Paladium, and we thought we could devote it to the famous Trojan horses.
-Horses that actually no longer exist, because you have finished with their meadows long time ago, to the point that they are nowadays just a funfair attraction- Cassandra immediately pointed sarcastically. –More than a festival in their honor it would be a magnificent funeral.
-Anyway- continued Paris, deliberately ignoring his sister -we thought about building a giant wooden horse, and organize a kind of procession up from the beach right to the city center, just to the square that lays in front of the royal palace. The interior of the horse, which would be as big and tall as an eight-story building, would be equipped with all the luxuries you can imagine, and filled with those Achaeans who are willing to pay well for the privilege of traveling within it. Once in the square, all those that were inside will join a glorious party with music, dancing, fireworks and drinks in abundance, a celebration that will last days, and that will be remembered forever. – He paused. –Dad, if it is a real success we can perpetuate it and celebrate the festival every year, and I’m sure it will attract tens of thousands of Greeks.
Cassandra again interrupted his brother when she noticed on his father’s face an excited and greedy expression she already knew pretty good, and she knew he always had when he started calculating the benefits of a promising investment. -What your son did not tell you is that, in order to make this big party you would have to clear an important part of the city center, because thanks to the urban disaster you have created here over the last ten years you can’t squeeze anything else in this city, even less a giant wooden horse. Besides that, this city has long since reached its limits and cannot support a single tourist more, in fact it will probably collapse with such a flood of people you are planning to attract…
-That too I have thought about- said his brother -and is easy enough to bring down the walls and most of the buildings of the historic district, and create instead a wide avenue that came straight here, and where we can put the horse and the whole parade.
The walls and houses and temples of the historical center was all that Troy had managed to keep intact from its earlier times, a highly valued historical heritage that Cassandra’s association had defended and preserved for years. Having heard this, and realizing the enthusiastic acquiescence of his own father´s face, the visionary but ignored woman erupted in anger, and solemnly, now pointing to both her sibling and her parent with her index finger, now pointing to the heavens, pronounced the following words in an angry but firm tone: – listen well you two, over the years you have transformed our city into a hellhole, but if you carry on this last madness you are considering now, if you destroy the last remnants of some value that last in Troy, and I predict that the city will fall, that it will be destroyed by the Achaeans, and that in thousands of years no human eye will even contemplate the most modest of its stones– and having said that she spun around, leaving behind father and son already scheming their plans, and forever left the palace of her family.
No one could oppose King Priam’s will, who had the whole city in his hands, and using equally his authority and feeding his subjects’ greed convinced the vast majority of them of the benefits of the newly baptized “Trojan horse festival” devised by his own son Paris. Thus, following the instructions of the latter, a giant wooden horse full of amusements and ready to accommodate hundreds of people inside was built, tickets went on sale, temples and houses that blocked its way to the royal palace were demolished with no consideration as well as large portions of the city walls, and on the chosen place galleries, box seats, stands and a huge stage were mounted and thousands of fireworks prepared. The event was proclaimed everywhere, and even the beautiful Helena paced the city and the beaches riding a flamboyant Trojan horse, encouraging everyone to attend the imminent event.
Cunning Odysseus was the first among all the Achaean heroes in hearing about what was being prepared, and those news were like music to his ears. Weary and disenchanted with Troy as he already was, he saw the horse festival as the novelty he was looking for, a celebration never seen before, something he hoped would reconcile him with what had been his favorite holiday destination for over a decade. Wasting no time, Odysseus convinced major Achaean heroes and kings to reserve seats inside the gigantic horse, and waited for the much expected day, convinced that he will finally see something extraordinary in Troy.
A few weeks later everything was ready. The horse, which had been slowly built beside the beach, was filled with a host of Achaeans hungry for fun, among them Odysseus himself, and in a spectacular, full of pomp and music parade, the horse was dragged to the city center by over a hundred mules, amid a huge uproar that without remorse went through what had once been the walls and the old houses of ancient town Ilium. At the end of the tour the giant invention laid opposite to Great King Priam’s palace and, at a sign of him, who was presiding from his terrace while being accompanied by his whole family except his daughter Cassandra, a great show started, with acrobats, music and dancers. Alcohol flowed in abundance, and at an agreed signal the horse’s belly opened and spewed hundreds of drunken and excited Greeks, who mingled with the numerous audience present there, becoming the party, already effervescent, a real frenzy.
What happened next, however, was not expected by anybody, except maybe by Cassandra, the ignored and absent daughter of King Priam: the huge influx of people in an already crowded city, thanks to that event planned in a too hasty and ambitious way, exceeded all expectations, and soon began the narrowness, the burden, the tensions, the pushing and brawls, which eventually led, fuelled by plentiful of drink, into real riots. The unrest spread over the city, the stage and stands had to be evacuated, and in the confusion several uncontrolled fireworks ignited causing a fire. The court of Priam took refuge inside the palace when a shower of blunting objects began falling on them, the huge wooden horse also got in flames, the royal guard deployed trying to calm things down but was quickly overwhelmed, and after an hour riots had spread to the entire city. The Achaeans, no longer rational people, already brutalized by alcohol and an atmosphere of extreme parties and moral depravity in which they had been through since they first reached Ilium, began to burn and loot everything in the midst of that chaos. Some of them went to the beach to call those many who had been unable to attend the festival, and taking the most of the fact that walls had been recently demolished, at nightfall all Greek, their kings and heroes in the lead, were rampaging in the streets of a lawless city, looting, forcing doors, constantly drinking and destroying everything.
Agamemnon’s people sacked Troy for three days and three nights, and then divided the booty and killed vast numbers of cattle and sheep for the Olympics. That was how Troy fell and was destroyed.
A few days later Odysseus watched the beach again, sitting on a rock. The sand was dirtier than ever, not only by the events of recent days, but littered by tens of thousands of Achaeans who, like him, in those moments were packing their belongings on their ships ready to return home. Behind them Troy smoked, or rather what was left of it, and in front of the ruined city hundreds of buildings that had once housed thousands of Achaeans visitors were now empty, rising like an adobe graveyard, hopelessly waiting to be refilled on short or medium term. The truth was that after seeing all this, everything looked uglier than it had ever seemed to him before, so he looked away, feeling both disgusted and repented, fixing his eyes again on the sea, on which horizon the sun was already to set.
Priam and most of his family had been arrested by his own subjects right after the disastrous festival, and were now facing accusations of corruption and bribery, having been demanded responsibilities by years of misrule and abuse of power. Aeneas, escaping from the spooky prospective of facing a similar fate, had fled westward at the very last moment, toward Carthage’s Dido, convinced that there would be a new opportunity for him to recover and continue his successful real estate business. Greek heroes, meanwhile, feeling as disillusioned and embarrassed as Odysseus himself felt after all that happened, had abandoned Ilium one by one to never return, the luckiest of all Menelaus, who had returned to Sparta together with Helen after she abandoned the Trojan Paris, who had been arrested together with his father.
Odysseus stood melancholy, and prepared to board his own ship, which was already floating on the shore right in front of him. He then looked out to the sea, and wished he could ever find a new land bathed by its waters, a paradise that had not been corrupted and spoiled yet, as had happened with the destroyed Troy. He did not know then that this effort would have him wandering around the Mediterranean for another twenty years … but that’s a different story.
(lee el relato en español aquí)