I confess, when I consider epic poetry I tend to think of it as inaccessible and not much fun to read. Not so with Larry Hammer’s “The Myrmidons” which appears in The First Heroes: New Tales from the Bronze Age edited by Harry Turtledove and Noreen Doyle. Written with a sly and contemporary wit, “The Myrmidons” tells the tale of how King Aecus’ supplication of Zeus for people (to replace those killed by spotted fever) was fulfilled in an unexpected way.
The servants, startled, finally woke the guards;
A guard, the king: “Your majesty, come see!
He came, he saw, he rubbed his eyelids hard,
And mumbled, “What the —–!” (I am not free
To print the word). But then, with gravity,
The king went out to greet what for the nonce
We’ll call “ant girls” – in Greek, the myrmidons.
This poem has it all: plague, riots, gods, miracles, naked women, multi-partner relations, male/male desire, and sword fighting. And ants. We mustn’t forget the ants. All in a mere 71 stanzas.
Not dull at all.