Mist in the fire of morning
The production of draughts and medicines is a duty I perform on many occasions, but someone was once foolish enough to ask me what I was ‘cooking’, as if I were a common slave. As it was such an inappropriate question I simply declined to answer, as is my habit whenever a foolish or inappropriate question is asked of me. Then there are the questions to which there are no easy answers.
Once I was asked when he – Dionysus – first came here. At first I could only smile, for what is time to the kingdom of eternity? There are only hours of the day, seasons of the sun and cycles that are marked by the passage of the moon. Most vehemently have I been warned by the Saints to never fall beneath the sway of time because that would bring death to all prophecy. The pendulum might swing, but such as I must master the art of remaining above it in a state of perfect balance, shielded from the terrors of Cronos who yet we must touch without our hearts failing or minds being lost.
Daily am I reminded that ordinary time is of no consequence and fate unfolds precisely as the gods command it. When this occurs is immaterial, the potential for all action being ever-present. We are chiefly concerned here with what is infinite, although men so often desire to make fixed points for the dead books of their history.
“For this reason”, Timocrates informed me – quite gravely, in fact – when I questioned him on the matter, “the League has taken it upon itself to regulate all calendars of the civilised world that we might subjugate for perpetuity the menace of time at the centre of the Earth.”
I privately doubted it would be possible to truly safeguard the world from Time but kept this thought to myself. We were duty bound to try.
For the sake of the inquiry, it was sufficient to say that Dionysus comes at first sighting of the Pleiades, accompanied always by Euterpe, whose hypnotic sounds will soar over Parnassus from flutes poised like spears of moonlight on the muse’s lips. What happens then, who can say? It is one of the mysteries we cannot share easily, for like dreams in the stillness of the night, memories of those days are as mist in the fire of morning.
Though my mind may roam free, my life here is wholly proscribed in many ways. Indeed, it is set in stone. I sometimes dwell on the fact that nothing ever changes and perhaps I wish it might, but I am more aware of my great good fortune and that I enjoy liberties and other privileges the majority of my sex dare only dream of.
All the same – and because of that liberty, I know all too well – that I have seen nothing of the world beyond this temple and its outlying areas, although I frequently hear rousing stories of other lands from the men who come here. Stories I have over-heard, for the most part, or which come to me via my teachers, for it is not permitted for ordinary men to speak freely with a woman who is married to the God.
I most often hear about the great foreign kingdoms of Egypt and Persia – seats of wisdom and warfare, respectively – and of the various colonies founded abroad by generals and merchants of Greece, often upon the advice of my divinatory office. These tales can cause a sense of longing that I find difficult to overcome and there are times when I wonder if it is to the sea that I shall one day return.