The City of Idomeneus

"Do we still flinch from turning our valor into deeds?

Or fear to make our home on Western soil?"

-The vision of Anchises, The Aeneid, VI, Virgil


The white storm conjured a winter night


Forgetful of stars

The fire on the water a new sunrise


Forgetful of homelands.

Can it ever be said Idomeneus returned to his home,

Unfaithful Meda stolen by lies and liars,

"Do not shame her, Meriones, she believed me slain,"

City and son dead of plague?

No royal father to carry down to the sea

No wife to lose along the way or spirit to conjure fate,

The starry black block universe opens a different path for Idomeneus.

You sacrificed a son at Knossos, Idomeneus!

When man is the obedient son of his god,

The son will always be sacrificed.

"The gods do not take the first thing,"

Shipwrecked by storms and words, to begin again

Idomeneus poured libation to sea and sky,

"The gods take everything!"

Turn now from the Cretan shore, Idomeneus!

Find the city where there are two gates.

Find women who speak from within

Men seeking glory in bushido

Carried on the dying breath of chivalry

Reckoned not by the birthing cry of ideology

But the living prayer of duty and honor

One world giving way to another

As Troy fell to Mycenae

As yesterday fell to today

As this to other worlds Idomeneus may journey!

"Lead them home, Meriones.

I am the King who never returned,

My fate forever unknown."


An infinitely fractal city rises from the eternal delta

The confluence of many streams

Simois and Scamander

Information and entropy

Where there are two gates

One of Horn

One of Ivory

One for waking

One for dreaming


Entangled within so many worlds

Entangled upon such frothy quanta

As make their moment real

Each gate faces the other

Each gate leads to the other

Each gate is the other


Recurring in so many lives


Recurring in so many scenes


Spoken here and now

Shall be the City of Idomeneus.


How many gate keepers for infinitely many worlds?

Does not every journey begin with death

To end in birth—grand Idomeneus?

This must be so.

Beyond the city for your first night there is an inn

Where you may dine with Triptolemus and Demeter

Refresh yourself at the table of Persephone

Where the wife will play her husband’s game,

"Judge, Traveler, to earn your feast and pay your way,

Come closer, to say which garden is more fragrant."

Purified abandoned Medea, witch with many children

Nereid Thetis accursed to bear a single glorious son

Medea earthy strong mons and dark rich center

An aroma steeped of woman, fetching

Lips to draw a powerful man in and hold him

Cold as the "hoarfrost gathered in the full moon’s light."

Thetis young silken dawn soft around and

Upon a twilit pool of sweet and pungent nectar

To touch and taste and go within

Warm as the blood that still flows below Ida.

"Say, Idomeneus!"

A goddess wants to know, so Idomeneus answers,

"The soil of one, and the flower of the other."

Thus did Idomeneus pass through the Gate of Ivory.



Beyond the endless western sea

Your infinite day’s journey chases the Sun

As the world forever chases the stars

Until evening settles on a well watered coast

Where men recall the past only to praise it

And themselves

Until armies face their foe across a river’s fords

To right wrongs with greater wrongs

Sons to war upon fathers and brothers war upon brothers

Death not yet sated by the blood of sons and fathers and brothers

Comes to a ford of a river

Until well mounted Idomeneus is near the ford of the swollen river

Spring on the morning air

The wood still sleeping but men stir to kill

From the river a javelin snaps and a chariot axle cracks

Smoke from sound and shouting

No javelin!

No chariot!

The very air clapping and whistling sharp

Now the wood awake with many well mounted men with guns

By some means unfolded in uncountable waves of improbability

To seek a local optimum on the human fitness landscape

Likewise accoutered in the garb of Fitz Lee’s cavalry at three-to-one odds

Along the Rappahannock this St. Patrick’s Day

Idomeneus knows the cry of battle when he hears it

Yelling determined horsemen of the Army of the Potomac.

Waylaid by that human fuck


You’re back in the shit again, Idomeneus

On horseback!

Among horsemen armed with steel

To the sound of battle,

The start of havoc and hell

Unlike any other noise

To the sound of guns!

Who shall ride most gallantly there

But the "Gallant Pelham"?

Why is he here for Christ’s sake?

His horse passes you!

Who is in command?

At the river Yankee troops cross

Giving a good rate of fire for fording and taking

Forming and attacking, claiming but not owning

As it is among men fired by the first kill!

Follow the boy!

He harkens glorious war to come near, and it does

The same shot almost kills you

Pelham falls from his horse

The mortal wound carries away his soul

As before the Wall of Troy

Idomeneus recovers the body

This is glory!

Death in battle,

This young artilleryman who had no business here

But to meet Idomeneus in the Heraclitean flow

But to get killed!

For what idea did this boy die

What Mother has lost her son

Tossed himself into the abyss of folly

That has not been thought before

Who has not grieved before

Where so many have leapt before

This kulchur commends his sacrifice,

"His immortal soul for the cause"

As all do—all but Idomeneus

Who tended many pyres near the beached ships.

His "immortal soul?"

Uncatchable shadow –

What fire casts it?

Who possesses it?

The divine spark within you

No glowing chunk of the microwave background

No clue to man or world or time

Is there an atom of life spawned by Nature

That lives forever?

What say you, Idomeneus?

"I see no Horizon," cries Idomeneus, "sea and sky are one."

Idomeneus gently lowers the folded body of Pelham

Into the arms of his comrades

Brains splashing as the head settles in empty repose

Flesh and blood and earth mix

Like the histories told countless times

By fools who did not die in battle!

There is the tale told by Pelham

Forever the darkness hides his words

His body and voice lie still

There is the tale told by Idomeneus

This tale, these words

What passes between you and I now

And the tale God tells

The firmament beyond change

A third eye to see and say what is

Foolhardy boy!

You cannot follow Idomeneus

Through the Gate of Horn.


One gate to go

One gate to come back

Never two gates to remain

Here they dream

Here they awaken

In the City of Idomeneus!

Peter Ahrens

Late April 2012

Nexial Quest (c) Pete Ahrens 1999 - 2013