FYI, I honestly don't know how I would have inserted these ancient words into the "present-day" action of the novel. It probably would have been too ham-fisted just to include the whole thing, in feaux epic-poem translation, but I would have hated to give only small pieces. Like I said last week, a huge majority of my research time was devoted to the ancient manuscript instead of to the story of my idealized alter-ego.
Anyway, after digging through my Theothany notes, I found my detailed (and dot-matrix printed!) outline of the ancient manuscript, dated September 24, 1989. I didn't read it last week, but I did now.
Urgh... I think I just rolled my eyes almost as much as I did in my last post. Bloated and disjointed to say the least. But I'll press on! ;-) Hopefully my fortysomething brain will mold my twentysomething thoughts into something that makes a little more sense as I summarize...
|Live from New York, it's the fire bearer!|
I have in my notes that Prometheus said he wished to become mortal at the end of Aeschylus' Prometheus Bound, to end the pain of the torture. So, in my alternate take on the story, I had Zeus grow exasperated enough to eventually grant that request: "Sure, BE mortal. Try to lead men as I lead the gods and see what I have to put up with!"
Prometheus is released, now mortal. He still has his memory and knowledge, so he doesn't wander far before people realize he's special. I noted in my outline that this occurred in 1464 BC (der... why so exact?) so it turns out he gets crowned king of Minoan Crete. His people appreciate his limited future-sight, but they remain distant from him because of his sullen and solemn nature.
A wandering dude soon appears at Prometheus' court. He is Senenmut, recently exiled from Egypt because of some intrigue with the queen. He's traveled far, and he's learned many things. He knows that many past generations of gods have come and gone throughout human history. He teaches Prometheus about their eternal cycles. They become friends and initiate a cultural renaissance (giving rise to the Atlantis legends, to boot).
Prometheus eventually finds a wife and has a son. The son, Glaucos ("bright one"), dies from some malady, and Senenmut uses his Egyptian healing arts to bring him back. But one of Hades' minions sees that the butterfly-like soul of Glaucos started to enter the underworld, but then flitted back up to the world of the living. Hades reports this anomaly to Zeus, and Zeus thunderbolts Senenmut for messing with things he shouldn't. This brings back all of Prometheus' prior rebellious rage, and he swears a very loud and vocal oath that all of the immortals will DIE on this very spot within the next 1000 years.
Zeus no like that, so to punish this whole Minoan renaissance, he thunderbolts the island of Thera, whose volcano is known to have destroyed said civilization. My notes have some suggestions for Prometheus to survive this devastation, make it to the island of Samothrace, start up their mystery cult, and live out the rest of his days in exile. Kind of anticlimactic, though. But Prometheus and Senenmut (the latter becoming the model for legends of the healer Asklepios) live on as shades in the underworld, and hold their grudges.
Anyway, flash forward to 456 BC. Two men have re-sparked Zeus' fear of being overthrown. One is the playwright Aeschylus (whose entire Prometheia trilogy is conveniently lost to us), who was accused of revealing the secrets of mystery religions on the stage. The other was a brash Olympic athlete named Brisos -- my notes mention similarities to this guy, who I recall being very full of himself. Brisos was a distant descendant of Achilles, and thus a carrier of the blood of Thetis, one of the possible fated mothers of Zeus' dethroner.
Long story short: Zeus thunderbolts these guys, too. Sigh. I said it was disjointed. Now there are FOUR ghosts in the underworld who are carrying a torch (pun unintended) for the death of the gods. Their hopes are to be fulfilled by young Socrates.
Socrates travels around and uses that persuasive rhetorical power of his to convince Greeks to elevate Athena to a more prominent position in their worship. Over years, they do, and she absorbs this new power and sets herself up on another mountain as a rival to Zeus. Guess who begins to become increasingly jealous?
Zeus eventually destroys Athena (gah, I repeated that trope a lot). This causes Metis -- the mother of Athena, still tucked away inside Zeus' head -- to freak out. "That's enough!" Zeus' head throbs and throbs, and eventually explodes him with a golden light.
What emerges is a golden, youthful god, the second child of Metis, whom Socrates (seeing this in a vision, I think) recognizes as Phanes of the Orphic mysteries. Phanes had some primordial "Logos" action going on, since he actually existed before any of the other gods, but was also ever-new. Phanes extracts the immortal "ichor" from all of the gods (including himself) and disperses it, much diluted, to all of humanity, present and future. This is a kind of "grounding" of the heavenly energy back down to the earth.
Socrates wakes up from his vision, and the world looks fresh and new. No more gods -- we must be our own inspiration from now on. His final line is "I have so much to learn...."
Like I said, not too polished! I probably tightened up the plot in a bunch of small ways in the act of typing out the above, and I can think of many more things that could be done to improve it. But do I want to?!? I should make it clear that I was hugely inspired by Shelley's Prometheus Unbound. At the time, I even memorized the final few stanzas that began,
- This is the day, which down the void abysm
- At the Earth-born's spell yawns for Heaven's despotism...