1. The New Wolf Progeny
Continuation of the story...
translated by Natalia Kasparova
Feeling like a barbarian, the Philosopher was lighting the leaves of papyri from the lantern and was throwing the blazing flames into the sea. The wind would carry them away and some of them would even soar to the heights of the ship masts, but all of them would burn in the air and only ash would land into the water…
“Don’t feel sorry” Thais Kilios condescended. “It will all come back. It is not the fruit of your intellect rather your vices that are ablaze.”
“It is hard for me to understand it yet” Aris let slip. “And I can still feel violence done to me”.
“When you open your own philosophical school… It will be later called Lyceum. The housing for this purpose is already ready near the Temple of Apollo Likeyskie… Remember, where he is in the guise of a wolf? Or have you forgotten in your travels? It will be referred to as the wolf school, but you should not listen to the rumours. Wolves are noble, because of their passion for freedom. And the feeling of violence will vanish in that hour never to come back. You will be surrounded by pupils as obedient to your word as wolf cubs. And there will come the time when you will be teaching and instructing future tsars, tyrants and hegemons. And then, many years later, the thoughts born by you now will seize the minds of the whole educated world. But his will come about later…”
Aris burnt his hand having forgotten to let go of the blazing papyrus.
“You know the future?..”
“We will leave foretelling the future to the oracles. We will have the future happening today. We will sow a seed which will sprout in millennia.”
“Listening to you, Ephor, I feel misled” admitted the Philosopher. “You forbid to mention even indirectly how the world is designed. You are saying that this is the secret of Iliad… Really now I don’t know where to apply the instrument that is my mind.”
“No, I have not been mistaken in you!” the Superior became overjoyed and once again screeched with his sandals. “You have gotten rid of your vices and are clean as a white leaf of papyrus capable of surviving millennia…I envy you, Aristotle of Stagira! From that same instant when I read in your manuscript, which was committed to flames, about the holy trinity you noted of the barbarians. You anticipated my boldest thoughts! It is because of you, the new wolf prodigy, that I am so inspired.”
“I don’t understand your joy” Aris said with exasperation. “It was only recently that you wanted to execute me! Instead you executed the Roman who adopted my works!”
And the harsh guardian of the Iliad’s secrets suddenly became amiable.
“As a gesture of appreciation I will show you the way where you will channel your thought” he said. “Your future works will become a precursor to God. And you will anticipate his descent, telling the world how it is organized. You will prepare the consciousness of the Hellenes and the barbarians to accept one sole idol, who will reconcile the irreconcilable through his death. It is truly an enviable path – to pave the way for God, to build bridges for the God, who will incorporate the truths of the three corners of the world. And he will be one in three incarnations. The trinity you discovered is the essence of the future faith, Aristotle. And the reason for the existence of different peoples lies in the idea of one God.”
The Philosopher felt even more confused, his thoughts were unravelling like a damp papyrus.
“If it were not for you, Ephor, I would have said this is impossible. I know Iliad and have travelled and lived amongst wild tribes enough. The Hellenes and barbarians are of an obstinate nature and are quite self-righteous. It is impossible to even imagine that they would have one God and will worship him equally. What should he be like to captivate and conquer the consciousness of an enlightened Hellene and a savage? I can’t imagine it….”
Ephor grinned imperiously; however, as a teacher he did not lose temper.
“Having taken the barbarian relics away from them, we will acquire their knowledge. And they will soon forget their gods. But they will rapture in the faith in somebody who Hellenes will crucify so as to gain faith in him through this crime. You, as somebody who knows of the nature of thought, are aware of this path and will guide the whole of the Middle Earth towards it. And so we will change the customary way of things where there will be just two halves – light and darkness. And it will be those who know the truth and preach faith, who will rule the world.”
“But the world will be engulfed by chaos! Great wars will break out!”
“You are right, Philosopher… And they will be very different wars. They will point towards genuine aspirations in the world. You know what battles happen for; the greed for gold, lands, slaves and power. It has always been this way, because the world is abundant with gods. And when there are plenty of them, like wives in a harem, our seed goes to waste - our faith in essence. God in its trinity will transcend this and on the battle fields swords will ring in inspiration for the idea rather than for gold. A while ago I incited Phocians to seize the Apollo Temple in Delphi as well as the sacred lands, thinking to unify Iliad. But what did I see? Over the ten years of the holy war amphictyons only strengthened Phocis, none of them wanted to fight for the holy shrine to the bitter end. In plurality of gods there is no faith, Aristotle. And with one God all wars will be holy and then the whole world will rest at Iliad’s feet. And neither barbarians nor Rome will ever dare set foot within its bounds. On the contrary, it is through them that we will do the work of conquering and spreading faith to those, who have yet to submit and who remain in the disgrace of polytheism. And let them destroy and create in their own lands only to destroy again.”
The Philosopher stumbled unwittingly and nearly knocked down the lantern. The papyrus left in his hand caught fire.
“Who are you, Thais Kilios?” he asked in a muffled voice as though there was a noose thrown around his neck again.
“An Ephor, overseeing the secrets of Illiad.”
“Why have I never heard about you? Plato or Bion never uttered your name either.”
“And you will never say it, though you will always remember it.”
“My mentors? Did they serve you?”
“They served the idea. And I must say they carried out my will very diligently. Otherwise I would not have been talking to you now.”
“I thought that my entire path was a sequence of odds, the play of fate and circumstances…And you already knew what would happen to me?”
The Ephor’s face froze in a stony smile.
“How similar you all are…Really it gets boring…I even knew that you would write this” he jolted the parchment copies of the book. “In order to astonish the educated world with the secret of papyrus making…By the way, Plato had already written about it by the time he was your age, and just like you he vehemently swore never to use skin, replacing it with papyrus. His young heart was outraged and I remember the heated arguments infused with rhetoric. “
And he threw the manuscripts down to his feet.
The Philosopher’s mind refused to understand what his ears heard.
“Plato knew the secret of papyrus making?”
“It was known to Bion….And both of them sent their first immature tractates into the fire. And so should you.”
Aris bent down and picked up the books.
“Is it really not possible to replace parchment with papyrus?” he asked hopelessly.
“It’s quite possible and not just with papyrus. For example, you can chisel eternal truths in stone, cast them in bronze, or inscribe them on golden plates as you suggested. Or, similar to barbarians, you could write in gold and runes. But would those materials survive eternity? Would not anyone want to break stone slabs to build a dwelling, to forge bronze into swords, to mint coins out of gold?...Besides those dead materials are capable of destroying, distorting the truth. It will instantly lose its sacred, magical meaning, which can only be born on skin. The meaning which can summon benevolence and faith only to augment it in proportion to the passing centuries and millennia. Sacred is the very human shroud and you were a witness to it…But this is the secret of the substances I have no right to disclose…”
“But the barbarians can descend upon us again!..”
“You will stop them.”
“And what did Bion teach you to see for? You have completed the lessons of maturity, haven’t you?”
And acting like a barbarian now, the Philosopher ruffled the leaves of the book and put them to fire. Cheap sheepskin parchment, impregnated with oil and hence thirsty for fire, flared up emitting stench.
Aris remembered the sweet, dizzying smell coming from the burial fire on the mount of Olbia…
“Twelve years ago the Macedonian tsar gave birth to an offspring” the Ephor said looking at the fire. “By his wife Myrtale, whom he now calls Olympia. His name is Alexander. The nature of the youth is divine, or at least that is what the rumours say…It is known positively that he was born by a Skopets* in some mysterious way. Your father, Nikomakh, was a witness to it. After all he still serves Philipp as a court physician, doesn’t he?”
*Skopets – a eunuch.
“Yes, Superior” Aris awakened, yet again expecting something sinister. “My father serves the Macedonian Lion…”
“And you will serve him too” Thais Kilios handed a scroll. “The Tsar is sending you a letter or, as the barbarians say, makes obeisance to you. And they ask you, Philosopher, to suckle his heir by instructing him in the nature of thought. The Prince is temperamental and inapproachable as he is at the mercy of nature and completely compliant with the barbarian customs and his mother’s will. He worships her so much that he is prone to incest. And it would have been admissible to instil majesty through consanguinity. I would have long ago encouraged him into his mother’s arms…But the intercourse would tie them even closer and they are already bound by the invisible umbilical cord. You will have to cut it and guide Alexander away from the grips of this passion. It will be enough if he kills his father…However to extort this passion towards his mother is not necessary. You will have to transform it into a warrior spirit. You have succeeded in the art of transforming qualities, have you not? So go to Philipp’s court and raise the youth to obey your will…”
“Please, let me not do this, Ephor!” Aris pleaded. “This Tsar destroyed and set my native Stagira on fire!”
“He will restore the city.”
“I am a Philosopher and not an educator of youths! The intensity of the court intrigue and other untoward matters are distant to me. I am a thinker!”
Thais Kilios looked so fiercely that the fire trembled and played as though from a gush of wind.
“Do you remember what Bion taught; state matters should be governed by philosophers?”
“I remember that…”
“Your hour has come!”
Aris was embarrassed and lost.
“I’ve never had to interfere into the matters of royal families…I am not an obstetrician to cut umbilical cords…”
“I will teach you” this time Ephor spoke quite graciously. “Come to my ship… In order to sever the youth from his mother, you will seduce him with your wife Pythia. She is experienced and artful in seduction. Let the youth taste the sweetness of her charms and body. And you will be philosophical about it…”
On shaking legs, the astonished Aris boarded the tiera and only then did he come to his senses.
“But I am not married! I am single, Superior! I have a bride, her name is Gergilia. And I don’t know a Pythia!”
The logic of his thoughts was unpredictable.
“Are you familiar with Tyrant of Atarneus, Hermias?” the Ephor asked, walking up on to the ship. “You used to be friends with him in Athens…”
The Philosopher studied with Hermias from Mizia Atarneus at the Plato Academy and indeed was friends with him in his youth. Possessed with the commitment to science and the nature of thought, he emasculated himself so that he could not squander his spiritual power on things earthly, and he was trying to talk Aris into joining the Skopets* cohorts.
“Yes, Superior”he confirmed, lost in guesswork. “But our paths went different ways…”
Ephor was privy to all the details of their relationship and therefore didn’t make much effort to listen to his confused babble.
“And this will help you to take away the charming Pythia away from the tyrant. Indeed, what does the Skopets need the hetaerae for – especially the one, who having all the beauty, also possesses a philosophical mind?...She will make a worthy wife for you. And Gods know; there is no other maiden surpassing her in the art of seduction…”
The end of the first Chapter