The Folly of Tyndareus

Swan feather

“Mother, why are we here?”

“I want to see for my own eyes whether the tale I was told is true.” As the beauty walked into the Spartan temple, the foundations shook in anticipation of her anger. “SO! It is true. Tyndareus has put my statue in fetters!”

Eros scratched his head. “Why would he do something so…silly? Blasphemous? Rude?”

“It is supposed to symbolize the bonds of faithfulness that wives should show their husbands.” Aphrodite spat upon the fetters. “Here me Gods! Those of above, those of below and those that call Gaia home! Tyndareus shall never know faithfulness. Not in his wife, nor in his children.” The temple seemed to groan at the Lady of Love’s pronouncement, which echoed longer and louder than the temple’s size would suggest.

“Eros, my darling son, be an angel for me. Go. Tell Zeus of the beauty, Leda, the wife of Tyndareus. Tell him I will aid his plans. Many fates will be affected by what happened here.”

* * * * * * *

A woman speaks, telling how Aphrodite’s curse unfolded.

Leda sat in her bower listening to the noise from her kingly husband’s costumed dinner where only men and harlots were allowed to attend. She was a bit upset by this but was more worried that the noise would wake up her infant daughter, Klytaimnestra.

Suddenly the door was flung open. There stood her husband in his costume. As she studied him, she was amazed at how beautiful his swan costume looked and how handsome and strong he looked. A small part of her wondered how that could be as when he left her some hours ago, he looked rather ridiculous. As he came into the room and gently closed the door, she became frightened. The man looked something like Tyndareus but yet moved differently and seemed more at peace with himself.

“Hhhhhusband?”

“Shhhh. All is well Leda. I am Tyndareus but also more than he.” The man moved closer. The movements of his hands and the feathers playing across his body were mesmerizing. Without conscious thought, she reached for this man who took her in his arms more gently than Tyndareus ever had. “Will you lay with me, oh beautiful one? I’m of a mind to plum your treasures but have no interest in rape no matter what the stories say about me.”

“Oh yes. Yes my Lord. Please.”

In this man’s arms, Leda spent the most memorable time of her life. She had never been loved so tenderly, so strongly and so completely in her life. She wanted the night to never end.

Suddenly, a banging was heard upon the door, a staff rapping with intent. To Leda, it sounded like doom. “Come my Lord! Your time is at an end!”

“Aye, Hermes. I know.”

“Hhhhhhermes?” Leda stammered. “Wwwwhhho are you, my swan lover?”

“I think you know, my love. I would stay longer but neither of our spouses would approve. You really do not want the attention of my wife. Sleep, little one.” And he touched her on the forehead. As she gracefully fainted in his arms, he laid her on the bed in sweet repose. Going to the door, he looked back wistfully and then strode through it. “Let’s be on our way.”

* * * * * * * *

Leda awoke to Tyndareus in his filth, ugly costume drunkenly pushing her legs apart. Before she could protest, he cuffed her hard across the face with one hand while he tore her shift with his other. “I will have you when I want and how I want. I am not only your husband but your king. No one will gain say me.” With that he commenced with his rape of her. Something he did on a regular basis. Before tonight, she hadn’t minded very much. She didn’t know what it could, what it should be like between a man and a woman. But now she knew and pledged in heart to have her revenge, the revenge of a woman and a mother. Looking away from the beast between her legs, she saw on the floor a feather left behind by her divine lover.

Across the room, Klytaimnestra started to cry.

* * * * * * * *

Leda swaddled up the twins, hushing and humming to keep the infants quiet. She was wearing a clean gown and smelled sweetly, fresh from a bath. In her hair, a feather was plaited into her locks. Next to the boys, was an eggshell, from which one of them was born. They looked so much alike, she couldn’t tell them apart though initially after birth she could. Kastor was born arms around the egg, protecting it from the birth process. As soon as the eggshell was cracked open, Polydeukes quickly grew into the same size and appearance as his brother. She knew then that one was the son of her husband and the other the son of her lover. Tyndareus in his arrogance claimed otherwise and the women who helped her deliver kept quiet about the strange birth in the face of his killing anger. Yet a child should meet his father.

Leda was taking both boys to Zeus’ temple in secrecy. She had planned on only taking Polydeukes but the twins refused to take separation quietly. And quiet was of the essence. Tyndareus had refused to give her permission to go there saying a woman had no business in Zeus’ temple. Go she would, with or without his consent.

Quickly and quietly she made her way to the temple. Surprisingly the boys stayed quiet as if they understood the need for stealth. Once inside she hurried up to the bare altar. She sat down her burden and bent down to remove the blankets from the twins in order to present them to Zeus. A movement caught her eye. The altar was no longer bare. Upon it was a naked baby who appeared to be the same age as the twins. The child started to shiver and cry. Leda picked up the child without thinking, motherly instinct and the need for stealth guiding her actions. As the child quieted, Leda again looked at the altar. There where the child had laid was a feather, an exact match to the one in her hair.

* * * * * * * *

Leda faced her husband, laughing scornfully. “You drunken imbecile. You drink so much and spend so much time with your whores that you are not even sure how many children you have. I gave birth to TRIPLETS! Two boys and one girl. Shall I remind you of their names so that you can introduce them to the family and Hestia?! Kastor, Polydeukes and Helen. I suggest you sober up first, lest you drop one of them into the fire.”

* * * * * * * *

So Tyndareus unknowingly raised Zeus’ children along with his own. Kastor and Polydeukes became popularly known as the Dioskouroi or Zeus’ youths, a slap in the face to any proud “father”. Klytaimnestra betrayed a powerful husband in favor of her lover losing her father a powerful ally. Helena, ahh Helena. All know to what this child’s exploits led. All these events were set in play by the arrogance of Tyndareus thinking he could chain Aphrodite or any woman to the will of man.

Who am I to know this tale, which differs so greatly from what others say? At one time I was called Leda but you, you can call me Nemesis.

As the woman walks away, two feathers gleam, plaited into her hair.

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