The Odyssey of BARYPOS of TEGEA
The adventures in Hellenistic times of four adventurers
[set in 270bc]
Barypos grew up in a small village outside Tegea in Arcadia, but emigrated with father, Diomedes, and family to Antioch in Asia aged ten, where Diomedes set up a tannery and large leather work business, using slaves, as the middle child he did not wish to go into trade and took to the theatre and the rites of his step mother. He performed in the chorus and then sought adventure as a mercenary Thureophoui. Finally, joining travelling performers who mainly play the festivals of Dyanisous (naturally with plays) and Ophius as well as being performing musicians. He enjoys life on the road but hopes to settle in the theatre at home one day. Like many ancient Greeks minding other peoples business is part of Barypus’ make up.
This is the story of his odyssey and those of with whom he travelled.
Barbypos has been entertaining and soldering in a Seleucid force raiding the Galatians for the past weeks acting as a guide in the evenings he entertained General Telesarchus, a fellow Arcadian national, and his staff. You have now arrived at Mazaca in Cappadocia looking for rest before finding further work with the barbarians. You have heard that Satrap Ariarathes II and others are employing good honest Greeks to help develop the kingdom and therefore integrate it into the wilder Greek community, thereby showing that they belong in the Greek world. The king hopes this will allow him to stay semi independent of the Seleucid King.
Mazaca is not a Greek city it is a very old city which used to be a Hattian city long ago. Parts of it are built into the rocks, it is surrounded by twin walls which connect the pretty rocky outcrops around it. It has a new temple to the Olympian gods and a old temple to Zoroaster, as well as a new gymnasium and Greek merchants. It is a mix of old Persian and new Greek in many ways, it is full of colour and activity, strange and familiar smells, it is a bustling and noisy city.
Cappadocia – Ariarathes II, a Iranian who rules this high plateau land. The land is over 1000m high with very cold winters and dry summers, a land of farms and horses with many forts and Fairy Towers. It is ruled by a sort of feudal aristocracy, dwelling in strong castles and keeping the peasants in a servile condition
It is a semi independent kingdom NW part of the Seleucid empire .in the central highlands of the Taurus mountains. This very mountainous and ravine cut land lies north of Cilicia and west of the upper Euphrates river. It is a high plateau, a tableland intersected by lofty mountain chains. The region has had many overlords, from the Medians to the Lydian’s, the Persians and now the Seleucids. It is a remote satrapy. Once extending northwards to the shores of the Black Sea, Cappadocia now only encompasses the high interior of Asia Minor, with northern Cappadocia now a separate and independent kingdom called Pontus, ‘sea’ after the minor god. It has two main hill-top cities; Mazaca, near Mount Argaeus, the residence of the Cappadocian ruling house and Tyana, with smaller hill top towns of Archelais, Comana, Melitene and Arabissus and many rock villages. Cappadocia is a land of soft-rock cliffs and mountains, eroded over time by wind and water to create a spectacular landscape. In some places cones of soft rock have been hollowed out to create entire villages. A region characterised by steep-sided gorges, all exposing layer after layer of brightly coloured rocks, Cappadocia is also home to wheat, fruit and vine cultivation on a massive scale as it is a very fruitful region, it is also a good place for livestock especially horses.
After four days relaxing and enjoying Mazaca Barypos decides its time to look for new work. The new Agora of Mazaca is bustling at this time of year. In the early summer morning air, hawkers can be heard loudly extolling their goods for sale; caravans arrive and depart in billowing clouds of dust; and criers announce news, opportunities, and executions to the gathering crowds. Between these sounds come the song and music of entertainers. Executions – two slaves who ran away; one crazy man for denouncing and prophesying against Ariarathes and Zeus. Employment opportunities are abundant, whether that is the manual labour of unloading or loading wagons, helping build new Greek style buildings, the clearing of animal waste, or accompanying the caravans as they depart the town. Word travels fast that Lydus, the Persian caravan master, is seeking skilled outriders to protect his caravan as it travels northwards. Barypos overhears, from mumbling townsfolk, that Lydus pays very well, but only trusts in the most loyal and competent applicants. Indeed, minutes later, a slave announces Lydus’s employment opportunities, and reveal that he offers 8 Obol’s per day, for the journey he is about to embark upon. Others are only offering 5 or 6 Obol’s a day.
Barypos finds Lydus interviewing candidates as his 4 wagons are loaded by 6 slaves watched over by 2 free Persian labourers, Myrzah & Navied, in a swirl of activity while singing the Prosodion. He questions all of the applicants intently, and many glum young men turn away when it’s clear that they will not qualify for the work. Zai, Lydus’s assistant, stands silently near Lydus holding his bow, eyeing applicants, and nods or shakes his head to answer simple questions. He is quite an imposing figure to behold a Scythian nomad with graphic scars across his face, and a blackened stump for a tongue.
When it is Barypos turn to be interviewed, Lydus asks him a simple question: “I am looking for outriders and scouts to protect my caravan, tell me of your deeds and exploits”. So Barypos does singing of his exploits to date, fighting as a mercenary Thureophoui and entertainer. Then he tells of time spent in the temple of Zeus here helping prepare the festival of Zeus just gone of coming second in the singing contest. Of nearly being beaten up by locals after for being Greek, but hiding from them. Lydus employs him at 8 Obols a day and moves on to the next in the queue.
After a couple more rejections another Greek steps up, Jason of Crete, Barypos has seen him in the Gymnasium once or twice, a short and stocky man with a pock marked face, clear honest brown eyes and a mass of dark curly hair, since he wears the legging’s and sheepskin cloak of a Sheep or Goat herder and is kind to animals and birds he looks like a bit of a county bumpkin. A bout of cow pox as a baby left his with a scar in the shape of a swan, like the symbol of Apollo, he now considers Swans as lucky. Jason tells of his exploits, he ended up here having been sent to the Antioch temple of Apollo, by the temple of Knossos who owned him, and freed he then worked his way here. He tells of his acrobatic ability and how he can entertain that way, he also tells of his archer ability at which Zai grunts and nods. Jason also helped set up the festival of Zeus and was given a roll in tending the sacrificial bull on its journey through the city. He is known as the man who stopped the wild escaped horse before it could trample children into the ground, calling on Poseidon to help him. How his quick eyes saw a cut purse before he lost his purse. This time Lydus is very impressed and takes Jason on at 10 Obols a day, he know has two devote scouts.
After Jason Telamon steps forward a tall imposing Macedonian. Telamon has a pleasant tanned complexion with a small but noticeable scar on one cheek, where he was injured fighting in a skirmish, he is also slightly ambidextrous. He is generally well liked and, although not scholarly, people listen to him because of his confidence. Whilst being tutored by Leitus of Antioch he injured another Hippeis, Aster, in unarmed combat due to his shear strength and size. Aster recovered physically but constantly tries to out perform Telamon whenever the opportunity arises. He has been tutored in some basic strategy and tactics by Leitus. He worships Hercules but honours the other gods appropriately but is not overly religious preferring to rely on his own abilities. He hopes to bring honour to his family and dreams of becoming a leader of a small group of warriors. He has arrived here from being part of a small mixed Cappadocian and Seleucid cavalry force chasing down Galatians in the area. His tracking skills were used extensively. Since being here he has writen letters to his family in Macedon, been at the gymnasium practising his very good Pankration fighting, in one fight his partner, Lamus, coughs and falls to the ground after he was hit. He chokes on some blood from the last hit to his face, Telamon saved his life by using his knowledge of first aid. He also trained in his mounted combat skills. He failed to impress Lydus and was only hired on 6 Obol a day.
The final person in the queue is Archi from Rhodes a very ordinary looking to the point that he goes unnoticed in a crowd, although left handed he is also bland looking. He tends to make up for this by waspish tongue, a verbally aggressive tendency, he is not vicious but tends to speak first and consider the consequences afterwards. He is particularly concerned with philosophy and will seek to protect this from religious mania or and unsound in his views bigotry. He seeks new knowledge with a passion and will take what some would view as unnecessary risks. He has been working as a architect and part time healer for the Cappadocia court as they build new Greek style buildings in the capital. He also appears to have a double one day, a women run up to him and in very bad and broken Koine and hand waving, indicates she wanted him to follow. She leads him to a large home, and is bided to wait. Quickly nibbles and un-watered wine is brought for him, which he just played with rather than taking any off. Some time after that, a Persian, Lord Haski, came up to him and asked who he was in reasonable Koine. ‘ You are not Komas, even though you look like him’ ‘How is my Lady to get home now?’ Archi says he will take her home and gets directions and one Obol and finds out that the woman was a household slave who had been told to find a person who looks very much like Archi. A very young and very beautiful girl enters covers herself in a hooded cloak and leaves with him. He takes her to a poor home and leaves her there, then he went and asked about her locally in the nearest tavern. He did not go to the festival or even talks about faith which puts Lydus off of him. However his ability to repair wagons and heal means that Lydus takes him on anyway at 8 Obols.
Barypos now has others to bring into his songs, and hopes they will supply lots of interesting themes.
The caravan consists of four ox-drawn wagons, each pulled by a pair of Oxen. The wagons are covered and loaded with a variety of trade goods: dyed textiles, ground herbs, honey, and medicinals, tanned leather, and forged metalwork (ploughs, tools, Xiphos swords). The wagons are driven by a 6 slaves with 2 Persians [Myrzah, Navied] overseeing them, Lydus and Zai ride behind the lead wagon, and the remainder follow in single file the last and last wagons have the Persians on them. The characters are instructed to act as outriders under Telamon on the roadway. At times, they need to cluster close to the wagons, guiding the caravan through treacherous ground or obstructions, and providing protection from bandits, if necessary. Pairs of guards are asked to ride ahead – on “point” – to spot potential threats and survey the land and road ahead. Lydus supplies all but Telamon with a horse to ride, he has his own. Telamon in charge of the four outriders, puts himself and Brypos on point while Archi with his dokey and Jason bring up the rear.
The caravan departs that morning the procession heads out of Mazaca’s eastern gate, following the road through the abundant farmland that surrounds the town. The eastern road is busy during the daylight hours, the caravan passes many travellers making their way to and from Mazaca, they also see many farms and small villages. After 10 Stades, the caravan veers onto the northern road. It becomes clear, over the next hour, that there is far less foot and horse traffic travelling this road as it climbs and twists and turns among the mountains and rocky outcrops. The wagons stop when the van fails to spot a rock which gets stuck under a lead wagons wheel, this takes a few minutes to remove. Jason falls of his horse trying to avoid a low branch, Archi heals him of his sprained arm.
The caravan proceeds at a steady pace, slowing at times to navigate sudden twists in the road. When there is clear visibility of the path ahead, perhaps at the rise of a small hill, the caravan picks up the pace. At intervals, side trails lead off from the western side of the road, leading down to the raging River Halys below. They become commonplace after a few hours of travel. Each time the van rides quickly 50 paces down them just to check there are no ambushers. Then back ahead of the caravans, this starts to tire there horses.
Lydus strikes up conversations with each character at different points in the journey. He naturally inquires about their backgrounds from where they hail and where their lives have taken them thus far. He asks them to go into more detail about their exploits and accomplishments. He also asks what plans they have for the future. With Telamon Lydus’s ‘opens up’ and discusses more personal topics. He asks him of his family and friends. He, uncomfortably, asks how he is able to maintain his relationships with the distance that their travel and activities involve. Lydus does not come out directly and ask for advice for his own unrequited love, but he vaguely describes his troubles if an character enquires for details. He has fallen in love with a Tavern owners daughter, named Gisal, in the city of Sinope. He longs for her but his social brusqueness forces a barrier between them. This unrequited love frustrates him no end, and he has found it hard to accept that this obstacle isn’t as easily resolved as a trade negotiation. Telamon says that it is not easy but letter help and one day he will settle and see more of them. Lydus is very obvious about his worship of the gods. He fills pauses in dialogue with short phrases, such as: “Surely Zeus guides our actions”, or “Oh, this is fortuitous; praise be to Hermes” Lydus distances himself from Archi becauseof his distain and rejection of the wisdom of the gods.
The caravan’s first stop on the north road is the town of Thordvin, famed for its pig herders, which they arrive at around mid afternoon. This small community, of a few hundred inhabitants, is bound by a crude stone wall. A cluster of buildings stand at the core of the rock town. They include an tavern, tanners, metalworkers, butcher’s, and a number of smaller leather craft shops. Dozens of rock hovels radiate out from the town centre, each with an attached pen crowded with swine.
A foul stink hangs over this town – it can be nauseating to travellers, but locals have become inured to it. all of the caravan find the smell overpowering. When the caravan is admitted through the gates of the town, a great commotion is raised and a large group of locals congregate around the wagons. The caravan pushes through the growing crowd until they reach the north end of the town core and its open market area. The wagons halt, and Lydus’s slaves work to unpack trade goods and deal with the stabling of the animals.
Lydus informs the characters that he, the Persians and slaves will be occupied for much of the afternoon in trade negotiations with local shop owners and local folk. He will not need their services during this time, and he suggests that they brush off the road dust and relax at the Hog’s tavern with some wine. He’ll send one of his men if he has any need for them. Otherwise, he’ll meet them at there later and settle their accommodation.
Archi decides he wants to find any local herbalists so goes off to enquire about any in the town. The others go into the tavern. The Hog’s Trotters is the sole Tavern of the town. It is a multi-story structure with a tavern on the first floor and private rooms and a common room on the floor above all built into a rocky outcrop. The tavern isn’t frequented much during the afternoons and so the owner Darius leaves the running to his wife and two female and 2 male slaves. But, at noontime, and in the evenings, it gets packed full of pig farmers and random travellers and Darius makes sure he is there. There is one regular patron present a depressed pig farmer, by the name of Glun, he is drowning his sorrows in beer. Glun shares with anyone who pays him any attention, the characters do, that his brother, Daek, sister-in-law, Mathilde, and a good friend left town yesterday. They had plans to settle north in the hamlet of Ayldvin, and Glun is quite unhappy with their decision. Glun’s mood brightens when he learns that the characters are travelling north and he asks them to share his best wishes if he encounters the group in Ayldvin.
A little while later a wild-haired, wild-eyed and toothless women enters. Her hair is caked in bird droppings and her rags barely conceal her emaciated form beneath. Apparently this is Zoona, shortly after Archi comes in having found out that she is the one he needs to see and tracking her here. She looks at the four of them and says “For a Obol I’ll reveal your fate as the spirits of the water see it,” she declares. ” and for two Obols I will brew you a potion of Good Fortune.” Zoona is highly revered by the locals and Telamon who says no upsets them, but Archi calms them down. Archi buys a potion, which he gives to Archi to see what happens, Jason also buys and drinks, Brypos says no to the fortune but buys a potion. She looks into their eyes I see long years of prosperity ahead, but days of hardship and doubt. She sees love and comfort, but also nights of loneliness and heartache. To Brypos and Telamon she says “The spirits are offended! They tell me of misfortunes in your path and the wrath of the dead! I see the raggedy man waiting for you with pain in his mind and blood on his hands. I see your suffering and fear. I hear the lamentations of your loved ones and many graves to be dug!” Zoona then takes a pouch from within her rags and empties the contents into the Archi’s, Jason and Brypos’s drinks. The smell is obscene: sickly sweet, like rotten chicken. She stirs the drink with her finger, spits into it, and declares it ready. “Pour this into a flask. When you consume it, you will be assured Good Fortune for a day and a night. No harm will come to you. The water spirits have spoken!” Jason, Brypos and Telamon drink their potions, dearly throwing up at the vile smelling and tasting wine.