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Category Archives: The Race of Myths

Robin Hood, Sheriff of Nottingham

It was over. The battle was won and Robin Hood had emerged the victor. After eight long years of fighting the corruption in his country, the oppression and abuse of his people, Robin Hood had knocked the Sheriff of Nottingham off his high horse, defeated Guy of Gisborne and even, yes, shaken the absolute hold Prince John had on his monarchy. By the time King Richard Lion Heart returned from his crusade, there was peace and a sense of justice. As a token of his gratitude for all that Robin had done, King Richard had Robin of Locksley, called “Hood”, named Sheriff of Nottingham.

The irony was not lost on the general public.

There was a problem, though. While their enemies had been thwarted in their immediate ambitions, problems still existed. There was still scarcity in the country; resources still flowed to the cities where most people lived while the people of Sherwood Forest wondered why their children still starved.

Robin Hood had proved to be a very effective leader at uniting the people against a common enemy, but now that he was in a position of power, he found that there was much more to governing than disposing of one’s enemies. Mouths needed to be fed, which meant that pockets needed to be lined, which means that coffers needed to be filled, and that was why the people had been taxed so hard.

“By why can’t we just put those taxes on the rich?” Robin Hood finally demanded of King Richard. “They have the money and the resources! They won’t starve if they help other people not starve.”

His exclamation was met with an icy stare. “They may have the money, but more importantly, they control the armies. They each have their own men. If I raid their personal treasuries, what do you think they’ll do to me? They will rally behind my brother and they will overthrow me.”

This was not an answer that Robin Hood could bring to his merry men. So when they asked him what the King had said, he answered that there were laws in place and that even the King was not above them.

But they had heard of laws before and knew how fragile they could be. He could not convince them that there was not enough food for them when they were the ones who were growing it. He could not convince them that they could not prevail when they had already come so far.

So he asked himself “What am I fighting for?” and realized the only person he was fighting was himself and he was fighting because he had become the system.

Robin Hood took off his badge and picked up his bow again.

“What are you doing?” demanded King Richard. “After all I have done for you, all the power I have given you, this is how you treat me?”

“I have seen what your power can do,” said Robin of Locksley. “It no longer impresses me. If you cannot provide the people with what they need, what good are you? What kind of King?”

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Hamlet in the Undiscovered Country

I closed mine eyes and thought the rest was silence.
Yet here I stir and ope them—now awake,
A brave new world awaits me. Yet which is it?
The scent of sea-life richly fills the air
As waves crash o’er my feet—is this my fate?

Where am I? What dreams have found me
Now I lie in wait? It seems so real. It seems—
But semblance is unseemly. I must know
If this be heav’n or hell or yet some other
Place—will I find my father? Are these the slower
Fires that burn our sins away? Yet oh—
Could I not live inside these waves that lap my feet…

Where is my mother? Did she not come before?
She did not know mine uncle’s plans, so, guiltless,
Might have risen up while I embrace
This gentle burn a little while. Yet where’s my uncle?
Where is that King who slew his brother so?
The man I should have dueled. Is he around?
I glance about me, up the beach, but no—
I am alone in death as are we all,
Though I took so many with me. Him
And her and the nun who loved me and her father,
Her brother who slew me, and my friends from school—

This can’t be Purgatory. Though it smells so sweet,
I am in Hell. Heaven and Earth must I remember.
Then must my uncle be here, too. But where?
And why? He’s where I put him for my father,
As I swore—must I still meet him in our just rewards?
I stand and scan my destiny.
Rough winds do blow in from this briny Styx
Are these the winds of Hell? Where is the Devil?
Where is my tormentor, come to gloat?
What are these trees with leaves so wide, so green
And get so foreign to our Danish shores?
If this be Hell, why shines the sun so bright?
Where am I?

But soft! I hear a hustle and a bustle
‘Round the corner by the trees.
Is’t a man? That cannot be, oh, no—
Some shade that once was man, perhaps, but now?
Nay, there’s a figure—form’d of mist, I’ld say.
A woman, and one of such design to set
The heav’ns aflame if clouds could burn as men’s hearts do.
Yet why so dim? Were you not made of that
Same flesh as I? Are we not alike,
Whatever the likeness we may bear?
But stay! I’d speak with thee anon!
I’d have news of thee, whether I am right
To doubt the blessing of my fate, the beauty
That surrounds me in your fair country. Stay—
But the airy spirit has no replies for me.

Am I? Do I yet breathe? Does this, my flesh,
Too solid still, yet bear the weight of life?
Or has time come for me with slings and arrows
To make me naught? Am I a spirit, too?
What dreams have come? What visions now assail
My desp’rate mind to make it fester?

I must inland from the sea. The waves
Give me no answer. Go, then, spirit, hie thee,
Be thou rank or bonny, hie—I’ll follow thee
To th’ end of this brave new world and see
What Man or Nature has in mind for me.


Odysseus and Aeneas

Troy is burning. Odysseus happens upon Aeneas, who is supporting his elderly father with one arm and cradling his infant son with the other. 

ODYSSEUS
My, my, if it isn’t the great Aeneas. And your father, Anchises, I presume? And who is this little chap? Oh, do not be frightened of me, good fellow. I have done my part in this war, you have nothing to fear. You know, I’ve always admired you. Your quick wit, combined with a wonderful physique–it hardly seems fair, really. Trojans I spoke to–and I have spoken to a great many here–have told me that you are like myself and Achilles combined. Yet here we are. Achilles struck through the heel by a coward’s bow and you, the smartest and strongest, fleeing, defeated. I can think of no more fitting end to this war, son of love, nor one that would make me more hopeful for the future of the human intellect. Therefore, fear me not, for I will let you go your way with your family, and return to mine own. My family, which did not transgress and, hence, is still very much intact.

Odysseus leaves.

AENEAS
Bitch.

Aeneas leaves with his father and son. 

 

Scene II

Odysseus lies drenched on the shore, panting and sunburned. Aeneas approaches, followed by many men. 

ODYSSEUS
My, my. If it isn’t the son of Aphrodite herself. How’s your father? Did he die a warrior’s death? Or a lover’s?

AENEAS
He died content.

ODYSSEUS
More fortunate he. And this must be–

AENEAS
Don’t tell him your name, son. He can use it against you.

ODYSSEUS
O wicked Hermes with your iron tongue, stainless as steel. You’re a much more sensible man than I am, friend, I’ll grant you that. Would I had kept mine own name such a secret. And now, Aeneas? It’s your turn at dice. How do you roll? What is to be the fate of the wily Odysseus?

AENEAS
I have no desire to kill you. Oh, my men do, make no mistake about that. You killed their wives, smothered their babies, burned their topless towers to the ground and salted the Earth beneath. But I do remember you left me alive.

ODYSSEUS
Yes. I would of course apologize for all that, but uh…

AENEAS
But what?

ODYSSEUS
I just wanted to get back to my family. I never wanted to go to Troy, never wanted to commit such genocide against your people, but… I just wanted… I just wanted to get home to my family.

AENEAS
By destroying ours? Odysseus, my dear, dear mortal enemy. You left your family. You may claim you did not choose, but you swore an oath to defend the honor of the most beautiful woman in the world, a woman you yourself never thought was that honorable. You could have broken that oath. You could have had the sense not to make it in the first place. But you left your home to destroy ours. I hope you reach your homeland, Odysseus, I truly do. But I can promise you this: when you do, it will never be the same. It will never be the way you left it. You will never really find home. And I have to say, I am comfortable with that. Come, Ascanius. We will do this man no harm. We haven’t any need to.

They leave Odysseus alone on the beach. He weeps. 


Homer and Calliope

I call upon My Muse:
Please let me sing your glory,
But this time, I would like to hear your story.
Tell me about the Bard, I ask, the blind one,
The first true poet. Tell me the tale
Of how he found his fame and lost his sight for you.
He would be the greatest poet ever seen,
The earliest poet ever remembered
(past maybe the fifth generation).
What made him so special?
What made you love him so much?
Was it his qualities? Was it his poise?
Did you take pleasure in his bearing?
Was it some glint in his eye that proved his devotion to you?
Is that how we seduce the Muse?
Or was it his discipline?

That Homer must have been a fine young fellow,
A smart young lad,
To assemble all those verses, those stories, from bits and scraps.
Who was he? Was he even Greek
Or a captive barbarian with an adopted tongue
Taken from his old world to the new across the sea,
That sea that he said looked the color of wine.
When did you find him? As a boy?
Precocious and at odds with his tutors?
Or as a man? At court? Or in the streets?
What were your first thoughts when you saw him?
When you heard him speak?
Did you hate him at first, like in the modern love stories?
Or did you choose him before he even knew himself?

And did he always love you?
Did you come to him in a moment of blinding revelation
To knock him on his back?
Or did he come to you, sculpting your pedestal with his words,
And sacrifice himself upon your altar?
How long did it take him to woo you
Before you succumbed to his words?
And when you did, how blessed was the night?

But you were no blushing bride even to Homer, were you?
No, you were already married.
What did your husband think when Homer caught your eye?
Has Apollo the jealousy of his stepmother?
Did he gnash his teeth? Foam at the mouth?
Or was he dismissive of this mortal’s advances?
Was to him Homer’s impending renown the stuff of mere legends
Whereas He was a living Myth?
What were his words?
How long did it take him to show his wrath?
How long did it take Homer to feel it?

Did he know the doom that awaited?
He must have–but did he even know who you were?
Were you revealed to him?
Did you warn him of what was in store?
Had you no share in your husband’s gift of Prophecy,
Or did He keep it from you?
Still, you must have known the danger.
Did you come to the bard disguised?
As a swan? As a laurel tree?
Or perhaps as a human girl, a woman for him to fall in love with?
Then how could he have known?
What would you have shown him?
What would he have felt?

For the doom that awaited could not have waited long.
What did Apollo do when he knew himself cuckold?
How long did he wait? Did he strike at once
With heavenly fire
This insect who would steal from the sun?
Or did he first seek to prove himself,
As Pallas with the spider at the loom,
In a contest for his own wife’s heart?
And would the Muse still choose him?
Would you have chosen him over your mortal pet? Having done that?

But maybe this isn’t how it went at all.
Maybe you only came to Homer in dreams,
As a voice in his head, as a whisper in his brain
When he sang for his supper and posterity.
Maybe Homer was only said to be blind
Because he called the sea dark like wine
Because he lacked the words, the language, to describe it
To the satisfaction of the ages.
But that is not your story.

Homer loved you so well, Homer loved you so deeply
That he shamed the God of Light with his words,
And so he was plunged into darkness.
But did he forget there’s no drowning a voice in the silence?
Did he not know, not foresee, that darkness only makes a voice louder,
Only makes a heart more full of its own light, of its own brilliance,
So he had elevated his rival with a very seat on Olympos
Alongside the Gods in perpetuity.
Could he not have known? Perhaps he, too, loved the Blind Bard,
Perhaps even long before you did, and fostered him for you,
To be sacrificed on the altar of narrative art.

But that is for you to decide.
Because this is your story.