Three Gods in the Eden (To Say Nothing of the Cherubs)

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Three Gods in the Eden (To Say Nothing of the Cherubs)

The Eden, which had been meticulously planned and well-kept in earlier times, looked like an old neglected garden or even a forest. The giant sequoias were growing up to the sky as if inviting the gods to visit this place forgotten by all. The beautiful magnolia trees, which previously had rarely been interspersed throughout the garden in order to delight the eyes of gods and people, has grown into a wall of impenetrable bushes. The flowers and herbs were intertwined with each other like in the early days of being, hiding the walkways decorated with mosaics under their green carpet. The mosses and lichens grew, looking like an intricate pattern on the pearly seashell-like basins of fountains, which persisted to murmur in the shade of the trees. The birds, the only inhabitants of the Garden of Eden except for invisible cherubs, joined the song of the fountains.

Hades released his black stallion horse named Raven, who then ran to the creek to immerse his fire-spitting nostrils into the cool, clear waters of Eden. The creek began to hiss and foam.

“Well, even the water can feel the breath of the Underworld,” Hades murmured, searching with his eyes for his brother.

Zeus, still in the guise of an eagle, was looking around the neighborhood, sitting on the top of the oak comfortably. When he heard the neighing of his brother’s horse, he flew down to the ground and turned into the old forester with the obsidian axe on his belt. And Hades, when he saw Zeus in this guise, became astonished and reached for his Cap of Invisibility.

“I can’t see any reason for you to masquerade,” Zeus said with a laugh, transforming into his true form of the Thunder God. “There is no one from whom we have to hide ourselves.”

“But why did you turn into that forester? You are frolicking like a child,” Hades grumbled, hiding his cap in his pocket. “It would be funnier if you transformed into a fly agaric mushroom. No one would recognize you then! However, my Cap of Invisibility is now a necessary thing. Rumor has it that mortals got into the habit of hanging around the Garden of Eden and trying to find the Water of Death and the Water of Life. We can’t kill them for such innocent mischief.”

“Nonsense!” Zeus exclaimed. “We would hold their feet to the fire to force mortals to come here. Or, rather to say, it is fire that discourages them from coming here. The fire generated by flaming swords of cherubs. Although it seems that the cherubs have now become lazy. I didn’t see any of them while I was flying today.”

“You’re too hard on them, my brother,” Hades argued, casting a watchful eye over the tree crones. “As far as I can remember, the cherubs were ordered not to show their physical bodies in the human world. Since then I also always had my Cap of Invisibility with me.”

“So, all are law-abiding except me,” Zeus grumbled. “But can you see any humans here? No one of mortals had been in Eden since Adam and Eve had been exiled from here. Oh well, the goddess of the Earth had a hand in it. Of course, it was a long time ago. But it was Gaia who sent the Serpent to Eden in order to stop the experiment of Athena and Prometheus. However, I can understand Gaia’s motives. In her opinion, any of hundred-handed Hekatonkheires or any of Erinyes, not to mention any of hard-working Cyclopes, is a more pleasant and valuable creature than those silly and worthless human beings, who are not able to survive without help from others and need our incessant attention and care. At the time I was very angry at Gaia, because after her actions, Athena was very distressed and Prometheus began to do strange things. As you know, he even gave fire to mankind. But now I can see that in the grand scheme of things Gaia was right! Who are the human beings? They are just dishonest and evil creatures! They’re greedy and envious. They always think that their neighbor’s grass is greener and the water on the opposite side of the river is better. Well, the Serpent took advantage of these qualities of human nature and deceived Eve into eating the fruit that pulled her and Adam out of their “zombie-like” condition ahead of time. As soon as they realized that they were participants in the experiment and completely dependent on the will of others, the experiment lost its point. We had to stop it. So, we hustled them to the outer world not finishing the adjusting of their musculoskeletal system and mechanism of biological reproduction…”

“The most important thing is that we didn’t adjust their brains well,” Hades sighed with sadness. “Hermes and Athena even organized some Schools of Life for them, but it’s like casting pearls before swine. Apparently, the Titans, who said that our direct contact with human beings, including our attempts to teach them, is a harmful and unpromising experience, were right.”

“Don’t tell me about the Titans! Gaia is their mother, but at least she didn’t hide her opinion that the conditions of Eden were too favorable to mankind, and consequently the experiment wasn’t fair to the rest of the animal world. So who will judge her for what the human race now has to be integrated into life of the Earth on a common basis? The haughty Titans will not move a finger to fix anything in this mortal world. They keep themselves aloof, reserving to themselves the right to dispute and reject anything. A sort of, you know, “the keepers of traditions”! But if they want to be above the fray, they must go to the Elysian Fields to Osiris…” Seeing the concern in Hades’s eyes, Zeus slapped his brother on the back and jokingly added, “Yes, they can also go to the Underworld to you! All is well there in your kingdom, isn’t it?”

Hades waved his hands in protest.

“It’s precisely because all is well in the Underworld, that I don’t want to see them there,” he said. “It’s enough for me that Gaia has hidden Typhon in the lower levels of Tartarus. And it will be too much, if you forcibly move the Titans there.”

“Why do you think that we will force them to do it? We will oblige them by Council’s decision. The obedience to the general will isn’t equal to submission to force.”

“It can be seen in different ways,” Hades said evasively. “I recently visited Osiris and tried to convince him not to oppose the inflow of the Giants who were killed in consequence of cleansing of unpromising species. But he said that he will not go to Council, and neither will he allow Giants’s afterlife in the Elysian Fields.”

“Did you both come up with it together?” Zeus bellowed in anger. “He doesn’t want to receive the Giants, you refuse to receive the Titans. Do you both think that I must send to you only nymphs and naiads?”

“I’m sorry to interfere in your discussion, but there is a substitution of concepts in your statements,” the female voice swept over the thicket of ivy-covered magnolias. “And it can lead to the aggravation of errors.”

The voice was velvety and melodious, but there was also a metallic note in it.

“Who is trying to be clever here?” Zeus asked and made the distance to the thicket of magnolias with one leap.

He burst through the green wall of leaves and almost fell on the huge flat stone, on which his favorite daughter Athena was reclining. The Owl stared at him disapprovingly with its unblinking eyes from the curly crown of the olive tree.

“Haven’t I ever told you that eavesdropping is rude?” Zeus said with annoyance to Athena. But he couldn’t be angry with her. So, he turned his irate glare to the Owl and asked his daughter, “Is the Owl was the one who reported to you that we are here?”

“It wasn’t necessary. You both screamed so loud that you could wake up even thugs of the Underworld”, Athena said with a smile. “However the Eden is clearly not the place for them”.

Hades’s disheveled head appeared in the opening among the thickets. The owl pointedly turned away as if telling him, “I can’t stand the sight of you”.

“Father, Uncle, sit down,” Athena moved aside on the stone, making room for them. “As the saying goes, it’s as cheap sitting as standing.”

Hades gladly sat down on the stone. But Zeus continued to frown, towering menacingly over them.

“Stop trying to smooth talk us by telling us your sayings,” he said. “You’ve invented this kind of phrases for human beings, so introduce your sayings among them. But can you be so kind as to expound to us, what you meant by the “substitution of concepts that can lead to the aggravation of errors”?

“You see, Father, that we’ve endowed humans with free will. It means that they have the right to choose and the right to self-development…”

“But they have chosen degradation,” Hades grumbled.

“The right to choose, daughter, is a right of free people, but I’ve never seen such persons in the sublunary world,” Zeus said peacefully. “But don’t shirk from answering. What kind of errors did you mean?”

“Freedom is a product of the Light of Knowledge, a product of Enlightenment,” Athena continued calmly. “We are trying to give the knowledge to humans in our Schools of Life. But the right to choose is a gift of the gods that, alas, is a burden to mankind. It’s the true bread of shame for them, as Hermes would say.”

“Have you seen Hermes recently?” Zeus interrupted Athena again. “Where is he now?”

“I believe, on the Nile. “The bread of shame” – it’s a phrase from his book. I leafed through his treatise and realized that when we had burdened human beings with as heavy a load as the ability to make a personal choice, we had bound ourselves to be their mentors and judges forever, because humans feel no personal responsibility.

“You’d think the gods feel personal responsibility for anything, but they don’t!” Zeus began to lose his patience. “Your brother Hermes is loafing about where he wants. He is flighty just like his mother Maia. It’s the damned Iapetus’s family! Who can I trust, if even my own children inherited through their mothers the features and characters of whomever happens to be their ancestor?”

“Yes, Father, especially in the fourth generation,” Athena agreed.

“But who ordered to exclude cloning and regeneration from methods of reproduction?” Hades said gloomily. “They were assessed as unpromising, but there is nothing purer in the nature than those methods.”

“So, we’ve chosen the most precarious one?” Zeus knitted his brows furiously. “And we’ve done it just because this method was the most pleasurable one! This is what comes of our wish to indulge our own lusts. And now our youngsters can do any foolish thing they want. But we’re unable to control them, because we can’t predict what comes to their minds next. They have no shame, no conscience!

“Excuse me, Father, but the concepts such as conscience, honor, shame, and other moral categories were established by us for humans only. These things are just the building blocks, with which mortals can build the imperishable Temples of Their Souls. But we, who are an embodiment of the unified and eternal Origin of Creation, fully endowed with these qualities since birth.”

“You were endowed, but lost it as a result of your contacts with human trash around the Earth,” Zeus said angrily.

“Oh Father, your words indirectly confirm the statement of Titans that contacts between Gods and mortals rather will deform divinity than improve human nature.”

Zeus was ready to explode with anger. But Hades saved the situation.

“Athena, respect your father!” he said. “He asked you about the important things. But you began to retell him some stupid books and some freaky ideas of Titans, instead of a clear answer to a simple question.”

“But you both dragged me into the dispute! And you, Father, don’t interrupt me, if you want to hear the answer,” Athena turned scarlet. “You said that the obedience to the general will isn’t equal to submission to force. This is true if all wills implement the only acceptable for all of them decision in unison. This is the rare case, when the general and united will are the same and become a Law. However, in fact, the will of the majority, but not the will of all, becomes imposed to the minority as a Universal Law. An alternative way, when the minority dictates the laws to the majority, is equally flawed. This is a substitution of concepts, about which I said. When the general will begins to substitute for the united will, it will lead to no good. There will always be someone aggrieved, who would be able to destroy the seeming unanimity.

“Yeah, there are many troublemakers around,” Hades, who understood just half of Athena’s statements, nodded in agreement. “Not everyone is able to think so wisely. And almost no one knows how to live really wisely.”

“Okay, there were enough senseless discussions today,” Zeus relented. “Athena, you better tell me, what brings you to this place forgotten by all? Hades and I became sentimental, when we met each other today. And we decided to move here. It’s like some kind of a journey to the old days, a journey through time.”

“Just imagine that I’ve lost the notion of time. I became lost in daydreams about the Golden Age. Upon returning to Attica, I surely will institute some agricultural festivals. To celebrate the first shoots, beginning of the harvest time, in honor of the morning dew and perhaps for the prevention of drought. No matter how we tried, but the Earth’s climate is still difficult for farmers, and their work itself isn’t easy, even though we gave them a lot of tools and devices. You must agree it’s no less important to teach people to relax than to teach them to work. In addition, the festivals with their essential components like songs and dances would contribute to the softening of manners and can gratify human souls.”

Hades and Zeus listened to Athena, being struck dumb and not knowing how to stop her girlish chatter.

“Well, I have to go back to my business,” Hades stood up from the sun-warmed stone. “While the owner is absent, “men can’t caught a crocodile, and even coconuts stop growing,” by some reason, he remembered the words of the stupid song that was sung in full throat by one of recently arrived thugs.

“Do you really use a labor therapy?” Athena asked in astonishment, jumping up from the stone. “I was in the fields of Aaru, and it’s a really fertile region. But how do you manage to grow coconut palms in the Underworld?”

“Oh no,” Hades answered in confusion. “It’s just the words from the song. You see, I prefer to rely on the magic power of art. We highly regard poets and singers now. And of course, my guys also love sports. My Giants are great and go-ahead fellows! If somebody irritates them, they grab him by the shirtfront and throw him to the ground! So I allocated a special place for them and enclosed it with ropes. I allow them two at a time to go inside and get into a fistfight. And in order to prevent them from killing each other for the second time, I also always appoint two other Giants to look after them, separate the fighters, when they become too enraged, and declare the winner. I called them judges. So my guys learn to respect the law during their games.”

“Dear Uncle, you are using our method!” Athena exclaimed with delight. “We’ve found in our Schools of life that humans learn best through play.”

“Why do you think it’s your method?” Hades smiled haughtily. “It’s possible that I have scientific priority,” he proudly used a clever term, for which he had berated Horus once. “However, I don’t claim to compete with you in such egghead things. I’m a practical guy. Well then, my Giants love their new game so much that they even forgot about their zorbing.”

“What is zorbing?” Zeus reluctantly joined the conversation.

“It’s their own invention. They climb into the bubbles of earth, cling to something inside, and then rapidly slide into the abyss”.

“Are they self-murderers?” Athena asked with disapproval.

“Of course, they are at high risk of death. But I allow playing this game only to guys, for whom no one on the Earth is waiting anymore. Though, to tell the truth, such guys would be even unwelcome there. But others have a great potential!”

“The potential of committing crimes and murders!” Zeus angrily cut his brother short, understanding what he was driving at. Hades sympathized with Giants, who were qualified as unpromising species at the last Council meeting, and so he tried to overturn this decision by hook or by crook. “You’ve decided to go, so go. And I’ll talk to my daughter some more.”

“Why do you trying to run my uncle out of here?” Athena pouted like a child. “He visits us so rarely. I love his anecdotes since my childhood.” She took Hades’s arm. “Tell me about other things your great guys can do.”

Reaching into the folds of his robe, Hades pulled out a fragile thing, which looked like something magic. It consisted of two blackened pieces of glass held together by a metal bridge. Enjoying her astonishment, Hades set up this strange thing on his nose. His face immediately became threatening and mysterious, because his agate eyes were not seen behind blackened glass.

“It’s also an invention of my guys!” he said with triumph. “They blacken mica or even glass, hanging it over the fire. And they use that blackened glass to protect their eyes when looking at fire. I became very angry when I saw it for the first time. I thought that they used that thing to hide themselves from me. I can’t even guess where their souls fly if I can’t see their eyes. Then I’ve worn this thing once instead of my Cap of Invisibility. The outcome was amazing! Humans were afraid when they saw me, but no one died. So I’m thinking of not wearing my cap anymore. Mortals are no longer afraid of anything and got out of hand. But we continue to tell ourselves that we mustn’t kill them with a glance or hurt their feelings with a word.”

“Memento mori,” Athena said seriously. “It’s right to give signs to mortals, not fatiguing their weak brains with edification.”

“Daughter, don’t wear such “moments of tomorrow”. You’re beautiful, but anyone wearing that Hades’s thing will become a monster!”

“Father, you misunderstood me,” Athena smiled at Zeus. “Memento mori means “remember that you have to die”. So say the humans who live on the Calves Coast. It’s not far from Attica. They are in my custody also. Although Cronus recently has become a frequent visitor there.”

“The Titans again!” Zeus roared. “You have pity on mortals, but you are ready to strike me down with your words and deeds! Who gave the Titans the custody of humans? We had an agreement that the Titans stay in the etheric levels and can affect on the earthly life only through the four classical elements, various portents and the predetermination of events which mortals call fate. It remained only to validate our agreement on the next Council meeting. But they began to squat the best regions of the Earth with the most developed population! For what reason? And why Poseidon relinquished these lands to Cronus? Has he stopped the breeding of calves?

“Poseidon has become interested in horse breeding,” Athena grinned. “He tries to prove that he domesticated horses. But he forgets that it was I who invented a bridle.”

“You are like little children!” Hades exclaimed. “Well, East or West, home is best. Where is my horse? Raven, come when I call!” He put his fingers in his mouth and whistled spiritedly. His horse whinnied in response.

Continuing the pleasant conversation, gods didn’t notice how they left Eden. They were divided from the Mount Meru just by the wide valley and mountain range which was a barrier for braves who was attracted to this land by the indistinct call of their blood and vague memories about the blessed life in Paradise.

About the author:

Nadezhda Kolyshkina is a novelist. She graduated from the Moscow Pedagogical Institute in 1970. Since 1974 till 2000 she worked at Progress Publishers as an editor specializing in historical and philosophical literature. Since 2013 till now she published four books in the “Disputes of Gods” series of Publishing House “International Relations”, such as “The feast which was instead of war”, “The darkness upon the face of the deep”, “Playing heroes and geniuses”, and “The reality of mirages”. Her new book “The innocence of simplicity” is in the process of being published. All these books are based on the world mythology, but they have direct relationship to reality.

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