The Athenian Murders

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Authors: José Carlos Somoza
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long as I was allowed to speak up during the journey'
    'But what good is the right to speak when you hardly ever exercise it?' cried Diagoras, exasperated.
    'You forget that the right to speak consists, among other things, of the right to keep silent when one wishes. Let me now exercise that right, Diagoras, by cutting short this conversation. What I most hate in this world is wasting time, and though I don't really know what that is, discussing politics with a philosopher, I imagine, is what comes closest. Did you receive my message?'
     
    'Yes. And I have to tell you that Antisus and Euneos haven't got lessons at the Academy this morning, so they'll be at the Colonos Gymnasium. Though, by Zeus, I thought you'd get here earlier. I've been waiting for you at the Stoa since the shops opened, and now it's almost midday.'
    'Actually, I rose at dawn, but I've been busy making enquiries.'
    'Relating to my job?' Diagoras brightened.
    'No, mine.' Heracles stopped at a stall that sold figs. 'Remember, Diagoras, that it's my job even though the money is yours. I'm not investigating the causes of your student's supposed fear, but the enigma I thought I saw when I looked at his corpse. How much are the figs?'
    The philosopher snorted impatiently, while the Decipherer filled the small knapsack hanging at his shoulder, over his linen cloak. They set off once more down the sloping street.
    'What have you found out? Can you tell me?'
    'In truth, very little,' confessed Heracles. 'There is a tablet on the monument to the Eponymous Heroes announcing that it was decided at the Assembly yesterday to organise a battue to exterminate the wolves on Lycabettus. Did you know?'
    'No, but it seems just. It's sad that Tramachus had to die for it to happen.'
    Heracles nodded. 'I've also seen the list of new recruits. It would seem Antisus is joining up immediately.'
    'That is so’ said Diagoras. 'He is now old enough to be an ephebe. By the way, if we don't go any faster they'll have left the gymnasium by the time we arrive.'
    Heracles nodded again, but continued at the same plodding pace. 'Nobody saw Tramach us set off hunting that morning’ he said.
    'How do you know?'
    "They let me consult the registers at the Acharnian and Phile Gates, which lead to Lycabettus. Let us pay a small homage to democracy, Diagoras! Such is our zeal for collecting information to discuss at the Assembly that we record the name and class of everyone carrying things in and out of the City every day. This creates long lists that include entries such as: 'Menacles, metic merchant, and four slaves. Wineskins'. We believe we can thus better monitor trade. Nets and other hunting equipment are scrupulously entered. But Tramachus' name isn't there. And nobody else left the City that morning carrying nets.'
    'Perhaps he didn't take any,' suggested Diagoras. 'Maybe he was only going to hunt birds.'
    'But he told his mother that he was going to set traps for hares. At least, that's what she told me. But I wonder: if he was hunting hares, wouldn't it have been sensible to take a slave with him to watch over the traps and drive out prey? Why did he go alone?'
    'So what do you suppose? That he didn't go hunting? That somebody was with him?'
    'At this hour in the morning, I'm not in the habit of supposing anything.'
    The Colonos Gymnasium was a large-porticoed building to the south of the Agora. The doors were engraved with the names of famous Olympic athletes and flanked by small statues of Hermes. Inside, the sun was beating down with violent ardour on the palaestra, a rectangular area of raked earth, open to the elements, where the pancratia were held. The dense smell of crowded bodies and massage oils filled the air. The place, though vast, was packed: older youths, some dressed, others naked; boys in full training; paedotribes in purple cloaks, carrying staffs, instructing their pupils . . . The ferocious din precluded conversation. At the far end, through a stone arcade, were the

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