I also wonder about the Tetrarch, who occupies my mind so fully that he is by my side in all but body throughout each day. We are bound, he and I, by ties both seen and unseen. There are ties for all to see because the Tetrarch is an overlord of Delphi and it was he that insisted I should be appointed Pythia when the former priestess was murdered during the war. Then there are the unseen ties, because I alone have understanding of how much he means to me. Even my sisters do not realise the depth of this ocean. To my mind he is the Earthly representation of Apollo himself and loving one enables me to increase my understanding of the other. How fragile we are beneath the ruthless gaze of our Lord, but how sweet is the perfume of crushed flowers, so healing the oil of their divine essence.
My love for Apollo knows no bounds, for his light reaches even into places of darkness, he is my lord and my protector in times of danger, my guide through moments of chaos. He is the husband I cannot have, the mind which inhabits my own and requires me to master this world.
Of all the places that I know to be in existence I have the greatest desire to see Hyperborea, cradle of my Master. It is in Hyperborea that the wax and feathers temple may now be seen, for it was carried there in the chariot of Apollo many moons ago and preserved as a portal to the underworld.
The Tetrarch seldom comes here during the cold and stormy months of Dionysus (The Tyrant Cleisthenes, by contrast, invariably does) but he frequents this place when the God has returned from his travels in Hyperborea. Once – when I was a child and prone to some irrational thinking – I asked Timocrates whether we might follow the God when he journeys through winter to that shining, golden land of sun and ice. His answer was decisive and prevented further query:
“Neither by ship nor on foot could you find the marvellous road to the meeting-place of the Hyperboreans , but in any case it is not for you to pursue Gods or men – wherever they may wander – and if you were ever to leave here in order to do such a thing you could never return and hope to keep your life.”
I never mentioned it again, as I do of course understand perfectly that this life is not my own to have desires with. I have learned to hold my peace, for the war has instilled in me too much knowledge already of the evils men might inflict upon one another and careless tongues or minds can spell catastrophe. As I am under scrutiny from most people for much of the time and some people at all times, I guard my words and deeds minutely, the importance of behaving discreetly having been seriously impressed upon me from an early age.
As a rule, therefore, my thoughts are carefully measured and then voiced with reason, my mind is generally clear and grasps at nothing, for everyone and everything is waiting for the God to speak through me and that is the singular reason for my existence. This is the way it is and always has been and always will be, lest the gods of Olympus are rearranged with another at their pinnacle.
In any case, all of us here are at peace now the war has ended and our fortunes are so very great. Far be it from me to break such peace. Riches beyond most men’s wildest dreams are scattered along our roads as carelessly as leaves, and arts beyond the realms of mortal man’s imagination are conceived of and created quite effortlessly, from beneath the steady gaze of the Master of the Muses. Here it is that the true source of inspiration might be found, the fountain of joy, source of the birdsong.
‘Artemis, with bow and quiver,
Stands aloft on Mount Olympus,
As the doe and hind, in silence,
Jump the clear and Star-lit river.
‘Swift they run. Like magic carpets
Are the green and silver forests.
Watch the bears – and bees with honey –
As the Goddess hits her target.
‘“Bravo, Sister!” beams Apollo –
Gazing at the sea below them –
“Never did you miss with arrow!”
Sinks the form of bold Orion”.
‘Lord Apollo watches, silent,
As the virgin’s beau drifts skyward.
Watches as the only question
O’er her virtue learns his lesson.
‘By a cedar stands she grieving,
Bows her head in shame, a-weeping,
Cries upon the smelted moon beams,
Chastens, then, her ruthless sibling.
‘“King of priests, my Lord Apollo,
‘Reasons for his death ring hollow.
While the muses – nine that love thee –
Contemplate their selves, you’d fool me!”
Laughs the god: “Your love’s a martyr,”
Facing fear the charging Taurus,
“Tempted by the Atlas daughters,
Girls who shine on lucid waters.”
‘Starman, brave, the hale Orion,
Laughs out loud: “These boys you fancy,
Golden king, are two-faced stunners!”
Now the hunter’s voice is angry.
‘“Why, pray tell, does noble Hera
Love the clawing, crabby creature?
Why, great Zeus, defend the Lion,
That which tortured all Nemea?
‘“Save me from that curse, Demeter,
Clamp the stinging beast of Ares,
Pluto halt the poisoned creeper.
Show me justice, I should meet her!
‘“By Olympus, I’m surrounded –
Gods, your beasts should all be grounded –
Yet I see my dogs are pining,
Faithful hounds are there compounded.”
‘Hearing truth, the god’s conceding
Forge three glyphs to raise the dog-star
High above. The bane of Thebans
Forms a flame to rival Ishtar.
“Centaur wise, the dearest Chiron,
Help me while away some hours,
Make of wine a crimson fountain,
Thus reclaim the heroes’ mountain.
‘So Orion tries the other –
One who killed the dreaded hydra –
Caught the boar of Erymanthes,
Spent a life in solid labour.
‘”Will you see, great Herakles
That we are stronger, still, together,
Strong enough to reach Elysium;
Gods are great, but we are better?
‘“Surely you, from that position –
That which marks the sun’s direction –
Could devise some plan to loosen
Ties which bind us in the heaven?
‘”Maybe you could snare the Cygnus
Or, perchance, the wild Aquila…
Else, pick up the Lyre, and swiftly;
Time does pass, but not too quickly!
‘“Now’s the time to break Olympus,
We’re the ones to end their incest;
This could be the final challenge.
Will you mark my words with interest?”
From her garden filled with flowers
Aphrodite screams in terror.
Then, the Goddess, caught off balance,
Falls into the field of Ares!
‘Thus, the God of War is fuming.
Anger grows inside him. booming,
So much so that grave Athena
Has to watch him blow up Thera!
‘As the scenes of devastation
Reach the eye of Lord Osiris
Thinks he: ‘I shall end a nation,
Then uphold another’s rising.
‘‘Cultured isle, the great Minoa –
Massive once but soon a shadow –
Shall become as mist to Egypt,
Nothing more than dust by morrow.’
‘All Olympus stands in silence,
Knowing that the day is over,
Watching as the face of darkness
Brings a wave from Cretan waters.
‘Then there is a moment’s mourning –
Plus a second more for staring –
Tears are shed but others, yawning,
Tell the world they’re done with caring.
‘Lord Apollo grasps Athena
Whispering: “He’s a fool this fellow;
Since he’s freed the Greeks of Cretans
So shall rise beloved Athens!
‘“Praise the day we let the ‘Gyptian
Take free reign of this, the Cosmos.”
Then the Sun-God, Fair Apollo,
Overheard the thoughts which followed:
‘‘I could devastate Olympus,
Cause beneath a mighty tremor,
Make the things of Earth grow frantic,
Stir up all the great Atlantic.
‘‘Thus, the lovely Aphrodite,
I should banish her to Venus.
Then, for Ares – he who’s caused this –
Mars is just the place to bind him.’
‘‘Hera fits the great, bright walkway,
Hades, we’ll consign to Pluto.
Yet the father, Old Poseidon,
Let him run his steeds on Neptune.