Giuseppina Norcia: Achille's Last Night

Giuseppina Norcia
Ed.Castelvecchi, Rome 2018
Pag. 157

Writer, Greek scholar, teacher of Ancient Dramaturgy at the Academy of Ancient Drama, the author, in this novel, writes about the life of Achilles, a Homeric character known to most. He writes about it with a poetic language in the form of prose, using Thanatos as a narrator. "Thinking of defeating me, your mother took you to the dead."

Son of Peleus and of the nymph Thetis, Achilles was immersed, at birth, in the Styx, because his mother did not want a mortal son like his father. But that wasn't enough. “So while she was sinking your body into that mire of death, I had to instill her with oblivion, so that she would forget the foot from which she was holding you. A part of the body sufficient to accommodate the space of an arrow. A heel, or a little less. While she was trying to deceive me, I was forced to throw the night into her thoughts so that she would return convinced that she had succeeded. "

Then there was the meeting with the beloved Patroclus and with his teacher: the centaur Chiron. It was to him that Peleus entrusted it. "Make Achilles the best," he told him. "The proud Chiron nodded his head as he hugged you to his warm side, knowing that being the best wouldn't save you." It was from him that his mother, Thetis, in an attempt to hide him and save him from his fate, took him away. "At a sign from Thetis, a dolphin emerged from the water and approached so that she could place herself on her back, astride in front of her, and support you with her right hand holding you to her chest."

In Sciro, this is the name of the place where they arrived, Achille, under the guidance of his mother, hid taking the form of a woman and changing her name to Pirra. He spent his time with King Lycomedes' daughter, Deidamia. She discovered her secret, so the two became accomplices and lovers. "The day was the theater of lies, the night your secret garden, in which to look at you, for hours, in which to love you."

But the Trojan War loomed. “On the black ships and in the camps of the Greek soldiers, […] your name was already beginning to meander. […] They started looking for you. It was said that they wouldn't win without you. Not without Achilles, they repeated the responses. Only with him, the diviners swore, pointing to the viscera of the animals, the flights drawn in the sky by flocks of birds. "

Pretending to be Pirra, for Achille, became more and more difficult. “You looked at the sea, with insistence. Like a lookout, you checked which ships entered the port and who traveled the long and dusty road that wound up to the acropolis. "

Until one day, led by the soothsayer Calcante, two false merchants landed in Sciro: Ulysses and Diomedes. Ulysses, welcomed to the king's court, with a stratagem revealed the true identity of Pyrrha, and Lycomedes discovered that he had been deceived. "The deceptions last as long as the gods want it", Ulysses said. “And this is the moment of truth, Lycomedes. I, king of Ithaca, am here on behalf of Agamemnon and all Greece, to take back Achilles and join him to the army of heroes who will destroy Troy from the high walls, in a just, inevitable war. "

Achilles left, but first he married Deidamia, who was expecting a child from him. “Neoptolemus. Everyone else would have called him that. But for her [...] it would have been Pyrrhus, in memory of her father. "

Arriving in Aulis, he was received by Agamemnon. "Here you are at last, son of Peleus ", said. "The army of heroes is now complete." In Aulis Achilles also met Patroclus, who was also ready for the expedition against Troy.

The tragedy of Iphigenia, daughter of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, took place in Aulis. Arriving at the camp with her mother, who was convinced to accompany her daughter for the wedding with Achilles, Iphigenia found Thanatos and Artemis waiting for her. "The sacrifice of Iphigenia in exchange for that cursed wind that would have led the Greek army to Troy", this demanded Artemis. Due to a grave wrong suffered by Agamemnon, Achilles decided not to fight anymore. "The Trojans did nothing to me, they did not steal my cattle, they did not steal my loved ones or offend me, as you do now, Agamemnon", She said. Then it was Patroclus, dressed in Achilles' armor, who went to battle "In your shining armor the Trojans saw Achilles, not Patroclus. " He died at the hands of Ettore. "Hector, [...] death is close to you, more than you think", were his last words.

In their last meeting, Thetis said to his son: “Listen to me carefully, do not throw yourself into battle before my return. I'll come when the sun rises. " Then came the long-awaited event: Agamemnon's apologies, who redressed the serious offense by returning his Briseide, and then took his leave. “So you lay down next to the shining weapons created by Hephaestus, which your mother left at the foot of your bed at the first light of dawn. […] You could already hear the creaking of the wagons out there, their footsteps in a roar of shields, armor, spears swinging in the air hissing. The sound of war. Ares, his terrible voice. "

The Trojans heard his warrior's cry: "Achilles had reappeared, Achilles the hero, Achilles the avenger." But he was looking for Hector, who was waiting for him at the entrance to the Scee gates. When he saw him, however, "Terror dictated the only possible action: to turn away from you and flee, like a novice boy." He reached him and, with a sharp blow, Achilles pierced Hector. Then Thanatos turned to Achilles: "Look only at me, in front of the Scee Gates: the fatal blow will vibrate in the sound of a dart, in the space of an arrow."

"You were the greatest evil for the Trojans. He was the greatest evil for the Greeks. You have fought with all strength, with the same intensity you have loved. In a different way you have been the bulwark of your people. I'll take you both, before everything is consumed in a big fire. "

Gianlorenzo Capano