Eumaios and the Skunks (Part 4/Conclusion)

Michael O. Varhola

Read Part 1 , Part 2 , or Part 3 of "Eumaios and the Skunks"

What Eumaios took to be as many as two thousand other people were clustered around the plain, and one group of them was clearly a contingent of Koan hoplites, a full syntagma of two-hundred and fifty-six soldiers formed up in a rectangle sixty-four men wide and four deep. From their shield devices they appeared to be a mixed arrangement, with troops from the City Guard and any number of other militia and paramilitary units among their number. Who all these other people were he could not be sure, and they did not even all appear to be military; many appeared to be dressed simply as townsfolk or farmers, a few groups were clad in the colors of Blue or Green racetrack fans, and clusters of various sorts were scattered throughout. There was also a large group of people dressed in the formal garb of priests and officials. There did not appear to be any central organization amongst any of them, however, and Eumaios could not tell what was happening. Why were the Koan forces not driving the Rhodians back into the sea before they could all gain purchase on dry land? Why were light troops like himself not harrying them with sling stones and javelins, rather than letting them rest easy while their companions made landfall behind them? Was there some dark sorcery afoot that was impeding the actions of the Koan defenders? And how did a mere five ships constitute an invasion fleet?

"Gods!" Eumaios thought to himself, his heart leaping up into his chest in horror. Had the balance of the Rhodian fleet gone around the island to land at other locations, possibly even his home village of Kefalos, which he had abandoned to rush to battle here?

And now that he was here Eumaios was not sure exactly what he should do; he had vaguely envisioned joining whatever body of peltasts was assembled to participate in the battle but he did not see a group that he could clearly identify as such. Nor did he see the many supply wagons that he had expected to be present, and the only thing suggestive of a camp was a handful of colorful pavilions near the group of assembled officials. His exhaustion and inability to tell what was happening made everything before him seemed strange and