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Interpretations of And Then There Was Silence

Summary

We need to tell the story of the Troy war to understand the song references and need to go far in the past.

  • Pâris birth:

The Troy king wife Hecuba gave birth to her son Alexander. Divines told the king Priam that his son will bring doom to the city. Priam abandon the child in a mountain, who is found by shepherds. They named him Pâris.

  • The main character Cassandra:

Cassandra is the daughter of Priam and Hecuba and is one of those that, at Alexander birth, predicted the end of the city. This is the only character named in the lyrics of the song. She can foretell the future thanks to a gift by Apollo However she was punished by the same god for not falling to his courtship: her predictions will never be believed.

  • The goddess quarrel:

Discord goddess Eris was furious to not be invited to the wedding of Achilles's parents Thetis and Pelee. She threw a gold apple on the table where the gods were together for the feast. "For the most beautiful" was written on the apple. A quarrel start between Athena, Hera and Aphrodite who all want the apple. Zeus propose to let the young shepherd Pâris decide which of the three is the most beautiful. As Pâris grown up without knowing the existence of the gods, he should be impartial.

  • Pâris judges:

The three goddess met Pâris and tried to corrupt him to receive the title of the "most beautiful". Athena promised him victory at war, Hera power and Aphrodite the love of Helene, the most beautiful woman in the world. Pâris chooses love, thus offering the apple to Aphrodite.

  • Alexandre is back:

Pâris comes to games organized in Troy and wins. He is recognized as Alexande. His father Priam send him to Sparta as an ambassador despite Cassandra warnings.

  • Helene kidnapping:

Menelaus, Helene's husband, received Pâris at Sparta. Pâris violates the basic rules of hospitality and head back to Troy with Helene and a part of Menelaus treasure.

  • Prepare for war:

Menelaus visited his brother Agamemnon, king of Acheans, to ask him for justice. Agamemnon organized a meeting with all the kings (Ajax, Ulysses, Achilles among others) to prepare to attack Troy and avenged his brother Menelaus All accept and leave for Troy with their warriors and weapons.

  • Meanwhile, in Troy:

Cassandra kept saying that if Pâris and Helene enter the city, they will be doomed. This was all for nothing as the couple enter.

  • War:

The war of Troy last ten years and is complex. The main events taking places in the last years, we will focus on those. In bold are the most used events in the song.

Achilles and Agamemnon starts a quarrel. Achilles received a prisoner named Briseis as treasure. Agamemnon takes her back to punish Achilles to have talk in a rude way to him. Angry, Achilles refused to go back to the fight and order his men to do the same. His mother the goddess Thetis asks Zeus to give advantage to the Troy warriors so that everybody see how Achilless is important: he is the best Achean warrior.

Led by Hector, one of Priam numerous sons, the Trojans are winning against the Acheans. Patrocle, a cousin and friend of Achilles, has the latest the permission to fight as he can not stand the view of the Acheans close to defeat.

Hector kills Patroclus. Achilles forgets his resentment against Agamemnon to the announcement of the death of his friend and thinks only of avenging his friend. He gets back to battle and wreaks havoc.

Achilles kills Hector and refused to give back the body to its family as it is customary. Instead he drags Hector body around the tomb of Patrocle.

Priam left for the Acheans camp alone to ask for the body of his son. The gods counsel Achilles, who is impressed by the courage of the old man, and give back the body.

Pâris killed Achilles with the help of Apollo. Ulysses then had the Trojan horse idea: a huge wooden horse in which the Achean warriors hide. One morning the Trojans discover that the Achean have all fled, leaving only the horse. An Achean prisoner explained that the Acheans left for home and that the horse is a gift for Athena. He claimed that the Trojans should take the horse inside the city. They obeyed despite Cassandra warnings.

During the next night, the Acheans get out of the horse and massacre all inhabitants. Women are enrolled as slaves, the city is looted and burned.

Enee is the only survivor. He will escape with his family and will fund Rome.

Analyze

We can start to analyze the lyrics.

Troy in flames

Turn your head and see the fields of flames

The fields of flames are probably the battlefields. The song opens with the end of the story: Troy burning. We do not know who is speaking: one of the city inhabitant? An Achean? A God?

Helene kidnapping

He carries along
From a distant place
He's on his way
He'll bring decay
(Don't move along
'Cause things they will go wrong
The end is getting closer day by day)

The "he" refers to Pâris coming back from Sparta ("A distant place") with Helene. This is the event that will trigger the war ("he'll bring decay"). We travel in times from the end of the story to the very beginning. The use of the future let us think that the storyteller is now Cassandra She knows that the city is condemned to fall when Pâris returns and vainly try to warn the others.

In shades of grey
We're doomed to face the night
Light's out of sight

"We" are the Trojans. The night represent their death and they are aware that is their fate. They have no hope against this doomed destiny: they can not see the light.

Since we've reached the point of no return
We pray for the starlight we wait for the moon
The sky is empty
Alone in the unknown
We're getting nowhere

The point of no-return was to accept that Pâris and Helene entered the city: the war is then ineluctable. The Trojans wait for the night ("starlight", "moon") because fights take place during day. They wait for a break before the forthcoming final defeat. The empty sky might refer to the gods and a feeling of loneliness ("alone in the unknown"). Trojans as well as Acheans have gods on their sides (Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes). However the fate of Troy is to fall and the Gods can not do anything against it. The Trojans are condemned and feel the Gods left them alone.

We have been betrayed
By the wind and the rain

Maybe the natural forces in those lines represent the Gods and their treason against Trojans. It might also be a reproach against the Gods to bring the Achean ships to Troy and to not have throw a storm to keep them at a distance.

The sacred hall's empty and cold

A statue of Athena who was in the temple of Troy was stolen by the Acheans (Ajax and Ulysses). This image clearly represents the Gods leaving the city, both literally and as a figure of speech.

The sacrifice made
Should not be done in vain
Revenge will be taken by Rome

The fall of Troy will be a sacrifice not done in vain since one of its inhabitant, Enee, will be the founder of Rome. This great city will colonize all the Mediterranean area, including Greece. Troy will have a late revenge.

We live a lie
Under the dying moon
Pale-faced laughs doom
Indulges in delight

The Trojans feel their end is coming as the night draw closer. Death and destruction show their happiness.

It's getting out of hand
The final curtain will fall

The Trojans express their despair. The mention of the curtain is interesting. This is of course an anachronism however it shows that the storytellers are aware that the story is not just a story. This is also a myth and a real show, and that songs, plays and novels will be written about it.

Hear my voice
There is no choice
There's no way out
You'll find out

Those lines can relates to different events. Since there is a mention of Hector's death a bit further, this is possible this passage predicts its unavoidable death.

We don't regret it
So many men have failed
But now he's gone
Go out and get it
The madman's head it
Shall be thyne
We don't regret it
That someone else dies hidden in disguise
Go out and get it
Orion's hound shines bright

References in these lines are unclear. Man can think the song came backward to an important moment: Hector's death, the first step toward the fall of Troy. Achilles slaughtered Trojans ("so many men have failed") while Apollo fooled him: Achilles is drag far from Troy ("he's gone"). Trojans can get back inside the city to protect themselves. Hector waits back alone for Achilles to return. It is possible that the line "go out and get it" refers to Trojans encouraging Hector to fight against Achilles ("the madman" – Achilles is angry with revenge). In The Iliad, Achilles running back to Troy is compared to Sirius, the dog of Orion. Sirius is the star of heat and death. "Orion's hound shines bright" means that the death of Hector will be the beginning of the end for Troy.
The sentence "That someone else dies hidden in (disguise)" is not a reference to any known event of the story. In the story only the parents of Hector talk to their son to beg him to come back inside. However we could imagine that while his parents wants him back, all Trojans want him to protect them once more and go out to kill Achilles.

Don't you think it's time to stop the chase
Around the ring
Just stop running, running
Round the ring
Don't you know that fate has been decided by the gods
Feel the distance, distance
Out of reach

Those lines are easier to interpret. Hector retreat when Achilles come back to Troy to defy him. Achilles run behind him and they both run around the city three times. Those lines are Achilles speaking to Hector to tell him to stop running away and fight him face to face. He reminds Hector that his fate is to be killed by his hand. He also reminds him that he can not find shelter in the city ("Feel the distance, distance, out of reach"): each time Hector tried, Achilles cut him. While starting the fourth round, Hector decides to fight Achilles.

Welcome to the end
Watch your step, Cassandra
You may fall
As I've stumbled on the field
Find myself in darkest places
Sister mine
Find myself drifting away
Death's a certain thing
And the other world
The other world appears

"Sister mine" means that this is Hector speaking: he is Cassandra's brother. He evokes death that he often nearly met in battlefields ("as I've stumbled on the fields, find myself in darkest places"). This time death take him: Achilles hit him deadly ("the other world appears"). The reference to Cassandra that might fall is an enigma. Hansi seems to have an interest into her (she is also present on Under the Ice, a song of the same album). He turned Hector into a protective brother that does not want his sister to fall while discovering her brother was killed in front of the city. He asks her to stay calm and courageous even in despair. Like Cassandra, all Trojans should be heroic.

Charon

Find myself she dies in vain

I cannot be freed
I'm falling down
As time runs faster
Moves towards disaster
The ferryman will wait for you
My dear

Hector continue to tell us about his agony ("I'm falling down") and feel the city is about to fall ("time moves towards disaster"). The ferryman is Charon who cross the Styx with his ship to transport the soul of the dead to Hades. The woman who should not "dies in vain" and whom Hector called "my dear" is unknown. It might be Cassandra, his wife Andromache or his mother Hecuba. None of them die during the fall of the city: they are all enslaved. Maybe "she" is the actual city.

And then there was silence
Just a voice from the other world
Like a leaf in an icy world
Memories will fade

And here comes the song title ! Man can think that the death of Hector – the main protector of Troy – blows an icy silence all over the city. The voice from another world might be the voice of fate: the fall of Hector means the city is doomed. However the fading of memories will not happen: the Iliad and the Odyssey are the two oldest poems and are coming from oral culture. If Trojans would not had any heirs and poets to sing the fall of the city, their memory will fade with them.

Misty tales and Poems lost
All the bliss and beauty will be gone

There is a clear reference to oral and popular literature. The beauty of the city destruction will be recorded through poems and myths while the city fairness will be destroyed.

Will my weary soul find release for a while
At the moment of death I will smile
It's the triumph of shame and disease

Hector is still the narrator. However those three verses can apply to every citizen of Troy. Against the shame and disease of the the defeat, there is the feeling to do the duties and that they fight till the end. Trojans will die happy.

In the end
Iliad
Raise my hands and praise the day
Break the spell show me the way
In decay
The flame of Troy will shine bright

Troy might fall and be in decay, the city shines beautifully and with pride. Troy might be in decay, she shines and is beautiful and noble. The heroic death freed the Trojans. They will find the way, the curse and the pain will end. Thus they stay proud and accept their fate with happiness ("raise my hands and praise the day").

The newborn child will carry ruin to the hall
The newborn's death would be a blessing to us all

The lyrics come back the origin of the war: the birth of the cursed child Pâris.

Pâris judges

Good choice?
Bad choice?
Out of three
You've chosen misery

Power and wisdom
You deny
Bad choice

War is the only answer
When love will conquer fear

So the judgement's been made to the fairest
The graceful says badly he fails

Those lyrics are clear: they tell the choice of Pâris. He is called the graceful thanks to its feminine beauty. His name is often preceded with "fair as a god" in the Iliad. He refused power and strength (Hera and Athena) to chose love (Aphrodite). However the love of Helene led to war ("war is the only answer"). His choice was the wrong one anyway. He could have chosen any of the goddess, the two others would have been hurt. There was no good or bad choices: all would lead to pain ("out of three you've chosen misery").

Warning
Fear the heat of passion, father king
Don't let him in
Don't let her in
Desire, lust, obsession
Death they'll bring
We can't get out
Once they are in

Cassandra , daughter of the king Priam, warns her father of the danger to let Pâris and Helene enter into Troy. They represent the lust and they will bring war with them. Trojans will be under siege and will not be able to get out.

She's like the sunrise
Outshines the moon at night
Precious like starlight
She will bring in a murderous price

Here we have an eulogy of Helene beauty. In the Iliad an elder sitting on the city wall saw Helene approaching Troy and understand that wars can be fought for her. Beauty is in opposition with the atrocities that will be done for her ("murderous price"). Trojans are not listening to Cassandra warnings as they are only looking to Helene and her beauty: they accept to let Pâris and Helen enter the city.

In darkness grows the seed of man's defeat
Jealousy
I can clearly see the end now
I can clearly see the end now
I can clearly see the end now

There is a link between the cause for war ("jealousy") and the fate to come ("I can clearly see the end now"). Everything is seamless. Priam himself tell Helene he has no grudge against her, since this was written to happen. The one seeing the end might be Cassandra.

The thread of life is spun
The coin's been placed below my tongue

There is two references to the Greek mythology in those lines. Each mortal has a thread that is wove at birth by the Fates. They also cut it at the end of one's life. Also a coin was put on the tongue of each dead person so they can pay the ferryman. Referring to death and fate prove that Troy destiny is chosen.

Never give up
Never give in
Be on our side
So we can win
Never give up
Never give in
Be on our side
Old moon's time is soon to come

Against fate Trojans can not give up. They must fight together to die as heroes. Everything is written, fate has to be accepted while never giving in.

Nowhere to run
Nowhere to hide
Nothing to lose
Like one we'll stand
We'll face the storm
Created by a man

Lock behind the walls ("nowhere to run, nowhere to hide") Trojans will do their best to face this trial due to Pâris ("we'll face the storm created by a man"). This is their last stand after the death of Hector.

Roar Roar Roar Roar
Troy Troy Troy Troy

And as the lion
Slaughters man
I am the wolf
And you're the lamb

The Iliad has a lot of comparisons with lions, wolves and lambs. Lion is a symbol of strength, courage and also furious and irrational madness. In the Iliad heroes are often compared to lions. Troy will fight hopelessly and see itself the winner like the wolf eating the lamb.

Hallowed Troy will fall
Round the walls
Faith is shattered, bodies fall

Nowhere to run
Nowhere to hide
Nothing to lose
Like one we'll stand
It's all for one and
One for
All
We live for will be wiped out

Trojans predict the fall of Troy, the lack of hope and the slaughter. However they will still fight and their only reason to live is to wait for death ("we live for will be wiped out").

I feel that something's wrong
Surprise, surprise they're gone

Full moon your time goes by
And new moon's still kept out of sight
We live we die

While the Trojans accepted to die with dignity, something unexpected happens: Acheans have gone. The new moon that should have set on their fall is still hidden. They express their happiness in the simplest possible way: "we live".

Misty tales and Poems lost
All the bliss and beauty will be gone

Will my weary soul find release for a while
At the moment of death I will smile
It's the triumph of shame and disease
In the end
Iliad

Raise my hands and praise the day
Break the spell show me the way
In decay
The flame of Troy will shine bright

The chorus about the fall of the city destroy the hope of the previous verses.

Roam in darkness
Spread the vision
We will be lost if you truly believe
Troy in darkness
There's a cold emptiness in our hearts
That they've gone away
And won't come back

The enemy is gone and Troy should be happy. However a whisper tries to warn the Trojans ("we will be lost if you truly believe that they've gone away"). This is Cassandra, one of the few that does not want to see the horse inside Troy. Since the fate of Cassandra is that nobody believes her, she spoke for nothing.

They'll tear down the wall to bring it in
They'll truly believe in the lie, lie, lie

The walls are destroyed to bring in the horse, that can not go through the door. Another person is now speaking, maybe Cassandra The Trojans do not see the trap.

With blossoms they'll welcome
The old foe

Ironically they are happy to see the enemy inside the city.

The vision's so clear
When day and dream unite
The end is near
You better be prepared

The narrator (Cassandra?) kept warning Trojans. The end of the war, their dream, has become reality since it is now united to daylight.

The nightmare shall be over now
There's nothing more to fear
Come join in our singing
And dance with us now
The nightmare shall be over now
There's nothing more to fear
The war it is over forevermore

Those lyrics are clear. The happiness of Trojans believing into peace contradicts with all the warning, their fate and death.

No hope
The blind leads the blind
Carry on
Though future's denied

What is possibly Cassandra voice now em bold them to go on with their madness. She has lost all hope, nobody would listen to her.

Mare or stallion
There's far more inside
We are in at the kill we'll cheerfully die

The narrator describes the horse: whatever its sex, the more important is what is inside. And when the inside will go out, Trojans will be doomed.

Misty tales and Poems lost
All the bliss and beauty will be gone

Will my weary soul find release for a while
At the moment of death I will smile
It's the triumph of shame and disease
In the end
Iliad

Raise my hands and praise the day
Break the spell show me the way
In decay
The flame of Troy will shine bright

The end of the chorus, the end of Troy.

Holy light shines on

The sentence echoes the end of the chorus. The holy flame still shine, the end of the city will stay in memories forever.

So the judgement's been made
We're condemned though the trial's far ahead

This is the judgment of the god, an ironic answer to Pâris one: a mere mortal judging goddesses. There is a strong feeling of injustice: Trojans were condemned by the madness of one man, without power to control their fate.

The crack of doom
Father
Your handsome son is heading home

We are heading back to the beginning. Pâris is coming back and bad omen are told to the king of Troy.

Still the wind blows
Calm and silent
Carries news from a distant shore

Out of mind
Can't get it
Can't get it

Out of me head

Sorrow and defeat

The wind blows on the dead city, the bodies and prisoners The few survivors (sold as slaves or Enee) feel the wind kept telling them the disaster. They will never forget.

Conclusion

The length and complexity of the war of Troy are well painted into that song, which clearly deserves to be fifteen minutes long. Two points are noteworthy in the reading Blind Guardian made of the Iliad. First Cassandra has more potency than in Homer poem. She is the only character named and is often the narrator. Hansi has given some weights to the tragic fate of Cassandra Fatality and lack of power are the main themes. However the chorus focuses on the immortal aspect of the story. The band might assess its position as the continuity of an important line of storyteller who told or wrote the fall of Troy, the first epic story. The band member see themselves as bards, nomad singers who tell over and over the myths of the ancient times. Blind Guardian road had to cross the way to Troy.