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And Fish Don’t Blink.

30 Jun

When you stare out into the universe, the universe stares back.

Now, imagine a fish.

The philosophical statement and the concept of a fish fit into a common associative category, or at least, it feels like the two fit together better than they don’t fit together.

I’m still reading Memories, Dreams & Reflections by Carl Jung, and once again, a simple statement he made in passing warped my mind into a whirlpool.  He was describing a dream of his with a fish which he referred to as “…an unconscious and mute fish…”

It seems strange to me that unconscious and mute were explicitly stated: both are implicit assumptions when conceptualizing a fish. From there my mind wandered, wondering if unconscious and mute were used to describe the fish as a literary function, like an inverted mirror, functioning to point out to the reader that the non-fish and human characters in the dream are vocal and conscious creatures.

When you stare out into the universe, the universe stares back; however, the sense or feeling of the universe staring back is elusive and evades all quantification and calculations that could prove this using the scientific method. Such is the way of transcendental beliefs and a test of spiritual resolve: faith is acknowledged in silence.

A fish underwater may stare at the surface, and from above one may stare back. However, the mute and unconscious fish does not know the presence as the presence knows it, sensing it yet not with a mutual understanding.

Infinity is two-sided. Staring into the universe is the infinite, and staring into the unconscious is infinitesimal: macro and micro representations of infinity.

Truth is constantly unfolding, and at this moment the above statement is my closest understanding in investigating my associate between the philosophical statement and the idea of a fish.

Soul Searching

23 Jun

An idea struck me, and like a vessel with an opposable thumb, I will try to relay the message that shook me, through me, onto paper:

What if souls are oscillating travelers amongst and between the powerful forces of the universe–similar to plasma forms in a lava lamp.The soul’s energy manifests as matter, and eventually transforms back into energy, etc. When the energy takes shape as a body, the place on the trajectory path – ascending or descending- from soul to soul.

Personally, I feel as though I was born an old soul. Perhaps I rested on the abstraction of age, and a more accurate conceptualization for this sentiment and knowing of experiences I’ve yet to occur in this life, is that I was born from the crux ascending upwards from lowest point of decent. What if…?

Origin Sift

16 Jun

-iatric

  • from Gk. iatrikos “healing,” from iatros “physician, healer” (related to iatreun “treat medically,” and iasthai “heal, treat”); of uncertain origin, perhaps from iaomai “to cure,” related to iaino “heat, warm, cheer,” probably from a root meaning “enliven, animate.”

I

  • 12c. shortening of O.E. ic, first person sing. nom. pronoun, from P.Gmc. *ekan (cf. O.Fris. ik, O.N. ek, Norw. eg, Dan. jeg, O.H.G. ih, Ger. ich, Goth. ik), from PIE *ego(m) (cf. Skt. aham, Hitt. uk, L. ego, Gk. ego, Rus. ja). Reduced to i by 1137 in northern England, it began to be capitalized mid-13c. to mark it as a distinct word and avoid misreading in handwritten manuscripts.
  • The reason for writing I is … the orthographic habit in the middle ages of using a ‘long i’ (that is, j or I) whenever the letter was isolated or formed the last letter of a group; the numeral ‘one’ was written j or I (and three iij, etc.), just as much as the pronoun. [Otto Jespersen, “Growth and Structure of the English Language,” p.233]

plasma

  • 1712, “form, shape” (earlier plasm, 1620), from L.L. plasma, from Gk. plasma “something molded or created,” from plassein “to mold,” originally “to spread thin,” from PIE *plath-yein, from base *pele- “flat, to spread” (see plane (1)). Sense of “liquid part of blood” is from 1845; that of “ionized gas” is 1928.

protoplasm

  • 1848, from Ger. Protoplasma (1846), used by Ger. botanist Hugo von Mohl (1805-72), from Gk. proto- “first” + plasma “something molded” (see plasma). The word was in L.L., meaning “first created thing,” and may have existed in ecclesiastical Gk. in a different sense. It was used 1839 by Czech physiologist Johannes Evangelista Purkinje (1787-1869) to denote the gelatinous fluid found in living tissue. This word prevailed, though Ger. language purists preferred Urschleim “original mucus.”

god

  • O.E. god “supreme being, deity,” from P.Gmc. *guthan (cf. Du. god, Ger. Gott, O.N. guð, Goth. guþ), from PIE *ghut- “that which is invoked” (cf. Skt. huta- “invoked,” an epithet of Indra), from root *gheu(e)- “to call, invoke.” But some trace it to PIE *ghu-to- “poured,” from root *gheu- “to pour, pour a libation” (source of Gk. khein “to pour,” khoane “funnel” and khymos “juice;” also in the phrase khute gaia “poured earth,” referring to a burial mound). “Given the Greek facts, the Germanic form may have referred in the first instance to the spirit immanent in a burial mound” [Watkins]. Cf. also Zeus. Not related to good. Originally neut. in Gmc., the gender shifted to masc. after the coming of Christianity. O.E. god was probably closer in sense to L. numen. A better word to translate deus might have been P.Gmc. *ansuz, but this was only used of the highest deities in the Gmc. religion, and not of foreign gods, and it was never used of the Christian God. It survives in English mainly in the personal names beginning in Os-.
  • I want my lawyer, my tailor, my servants, even my wife to believe in God, because it means that I shall be cheated and robbed and cuckolded less often. … If God did not exist, it would be necessary to invent him. [Voltaire]

vox

  • 1550, from L., lit. “voice” (see voice). Especially in vox populi (1550) “the voice of the people” (the full maxim is Vox populi vox Dei “the voice of the people is the voice of God”).

The Red Book

10 Jun

The Red Book by Carl Jung

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In the rare books room at Powell’s Books, I stumbled upon The Red Book on display, pages free for the flipping. The images Jung used to express the active imagination told the story when the dutch failed to translate (for me).

They Resonate. Deeply.

The Spiralled Light of Kali Yuga: E=MC2 Proven by Supermachine

4 Jun

The Spiralled Light of Kali Yuga: E=MC2 Proven by Supermachine.

A Morning Mantra, Resolution:

26 May

I  will soar: I have faith in the belief in myself to soar.

Between 3:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. yesterday I was sitting, waiting, wandering at airports and in airplanes.

The transitional move  up the coast to Portland only took an afternoon. The transition took the entire afternoon. The transition smashed me like a sardine, packed between thousands of journeys and bags, time traveling on a jet-fueled conveyor belt through space. The transition was an insular experience, and until halfway through my second flight, I did not read a word or listen to music as I looked inside myself with compassion and processed the changes in attempt to iron out the sentimental wrinkles tensing my muscles, heart, chest and mind. Hard to concentrate.

All of the above are simultaneously true. When I finally did open the New York Times, I read the paper in a record time (for me), inhaling the source like water on a dry sponge in under an hour. There was an op-ed debate and letters to the editor that stuck a cord in me. There had been an earlier article on ‘Mediocrity in the Military Academies.’ The people’s response was touching. Midshipmen received support from all angles, and in their own way, the responses asserted the qualities that these young men and volunteers strive to serve their country in a time of war: loyalty, honor, ethical discipline, selflessness, and serving others.

Another Op-Ed article was a comparative analysis finding the common thread through world religious traditions. The uniting piece between and amongst them all: compassion for others like compassion for self.

An article in the Science Times section traced the genetic origins of corn, a crop that only exists today as a domesticated plant. Red eyed male Tree Frogs are the first vertebrae  discovered to use vibrations as a signal to other males as an aggressive statement of territoriality. A bacteria has been found to cause snow and rain.

The world is fascinating. and my curiosity and thirst to absorb all that I can surges through me. Every morning,  my resolution to myself is to repeat the mantra upon waking as a way to connect with the qualities and selfless compassion as true fuel and nourishment through this journey–

I  will soar: I have faith in the belief in myself to soar.

Finding Phi

23 May

A Synthesis of Research and Reading:

kheper-i kheper kheperu kheper-kuy m kheperu n Khepri kheper m sep tepy…

“[when] I became, the becoming became, I have become the becoming [the form] of Khepri who came into being on the First Time…

…when I became, the transformations became, all the metamorphoses coming to pass after I had become.”

-translated Lucy Lamy, Egyptian Mysteries, p.14

  • In hieroglyphic writing kheperrepresents not only the sacred scarab “but also all the metamorphoses or transformations of which it is the symbol, as wll as the idea of becoming, in general. The word kheperthus means “to become” in all possible verbal forms, while Khepriis the entity embodied in the sun as it rises in the morning, when darkness becomes light.” Lucy Lamy, Egyptian Mysteries, p.14 (Art and Imagination series, Thames and Hudson, 1981)

When all is said and done, the final Synthesis for this particular universe in general (and for this website in particular) is one of love.

Unconditional, Unlimited, Universally-Connected Love.

The Tree of Life

Diagram by Brad Reynolds, from Ken Wilber, A Brief History of Everything, (Shambhala: Boston), 1996.

Here we have a basic spiritual cosmology consisting of physical reality; intermediate or psychic reality; spiritual and Divine reality; and Absolute Reality or Godhead or Source. (see also the Three Tier Model, which is identical to the above except that it does not include Spirit/Infinite as a sperate hypostasis). As Professor Smith points out, each of these levels of reality can be studied separately:

“The marvels of the terrestrial plane are being unveiled at an astonishing rate by the physical sciences. The intermediate realm adds life and consciousness: biology helps to understand the former, and for light on the latter we turn to the durable findings of phenomenology, depth psychology, and parapsychology, as well as aspects of shamanism and folk religion. The theologies of the great traditions describe God’s knowable nature (the celestial plane) from a variety of cultural angles, and the literature of mysticism carries the mind as far as it can journey into God’s absolute and infinite depths” [ Beyond the Post-Modern Mind, p.45].

In this all-embracing gradational metaphysic, we have a way of looking at the world totally different to the conventional Materialistic or Dualistic stance. Borrowing a popular Theosophical term, I use the word “Esoteric” to indicate this alternative way of perceiving things.

Ancient Wisdom in Four Mantras

17 May

Extracted from Don Miguel Ruiz's The Four Agreements, a Toltec wisdom guide that heavily influences my lifestyle and perception.

Besheret*Universal Flowering, Multiplied and Exposed

12 May

Multiple Exposure of Besheret (BeMused graphic design with LiveBrush and Picasa)and Heads by Pavel Filonov. Together, Space, Soul, Universal Flowering.

Egg

11 May

Easter Egg & Egg Creation Myths, Newall

Egg Decorated with Hutzul Ribbon

Homeric Cosmogeny

The first recorded reference to a world egg occurs in an Egyptian papyrus of the New Kingdom Petosiris:

0 Egg of the water, source of the earth, product of the Eight, great in heaven and great, in the underworld, dweller in the thicket, chief of the Isle of the Lake of the Two Knives, I came forth with thee from the water; I came forth with thee from thy rest.

Egyptologists have not decided to whom this text refers. Probably it is Thoth, the god of the moon, who appeared in the form of an ibis, and who is described variously in different legends both as having hatched the world egg at Hermopolis, and as having emerged from the egg himself . Petosiris, the priest of Hermopolis, records that:

Part of the Egg was buried in this place, and here were found all beings who came forth from the Egg.

Various Egyptian deities are associated with the egg. An allusion to the Sun God Rah reads:

0 Rah in his egg, who beams in his disk, rises above his horizon, shapes himself with his own metalmgT he sun itself is “The solar eye, an egg to which is given life among them.”

Elsewhere we find:

It was made against those of your retinue, on account of the wish of the spirits that are there, for not letting the breaths be inhaled except by the Great and August God who is in his egg. I come to thee and I am at thy service.

This ancient idea of a primeval egg which hatched the sun god occurs frequently; the sun myth took various forms in Egyptian thought. In one representation the sun is an egg, laid daily by the celestial goose Seb, the god of the earth. From this egg was born the Phoenix, symbol of the sun.12 Thus, in The Book of the Dead, the deceased says:

Hail, thou god Tem, grant unto me the sweet breath which dwelleth in thy nostrils. I am the Egg which is in the Great Cackler, and I watch and guard that mighty thing which hath come into being, wherewith the god Seb hath opened the earth.

Khnum, a god of creation, whose name signifies “The Moulder,” formed the world egg, as though from a lump of clay on his potter’s wheel. In ancient drawings we also find Ptah of Memphis seated on his throne. The Chandogya Upanishad describes the original act of creation as the breaking of an egg in two pieces : The Sun is Brahma-this is the teaching. A further explanation thereof (is as follows).

In the beginning this world was merely non-being. It was existent. It developed. It turned into an egg. It lay for the period of a year. It was split asunder. One of the two egg-shell parts became silver, one gold. That which was of silver is this earth. That which was of gold is the sky . . . Now what was born therefrom is yonder sun. When it was born shouts and hurrahs; all beings and all desires rose up toward it . . . He who, knowing it thus, reverences the sun ashrahma.

In Hindu mythology hirazyagmbha, the golden world egg, appears in a bewildering variety of forms, according to different traditions:

The restless, darting fish, at fall of evening,

Seeks where he may his refuge in the waters,

His nest the egg-born seeks, their stall the cattle;

Each in his place, the god divides the creatures.

These lines refer to the sun. The Rig Veda describes eight sky divinities. One of these, the Aditya Surya, was born from an egg: Eight sons there are of Aditi, Who from her body were produced. With seven she approached the gods. But the egg-born she cast away. Surya driving his chariot, drawn by red horses, across the sky each day represents the sun god, like Apollo in the Greek pantheon.

Again in the Rig Veda Prajapati, the original male, fertilizes the primeval waters, the original female, transforming them into the golden egg. Inside sits Brahma, the Golden Person, where he remains for a thousand years, floating in the waters of creation, his miraculous power shining through the seven shells of the egg, infusing it with a golden radiance. Within the egg with Brahma are the continents, oceans, mountains, planets, divisions of the universe, gods, demons, and humanity. According to the Lazus of Mana Brahma, the original substance, propagated himself:

He, having willed to produce various beings from his own divine substance, first with a thought created the waters, and placed in them a productive seed. The seed became an egg bright as gold, blazing like the luminary with a thousand beams; and in that egg he was born himself in the form of Brahma, the great forefather of all spirits . . . In that egg the great power sat inactive a whole year of the Creator, at the close of which, by his thought alone, he caused the egg to divide itself. And from its two divisions he framed the heaven above and the earth beneath. In the midst he placed the subtil ether, the eight regions, and the permanent receptacle of waters.

Aristophanes in The Birds writes:

There was Chaos at first, and Darkness, and Night,

And Tartarus vasty and dismal;

But the Earth was not there, nor the Sky, nor the Air,

Till at length in the bosom abysmal

Of Darkness an egg, from the whirlwind conceived,

Was laid by the sable plumed Night.

And out of-that egg, as the seasons revolved,

Sprang Love, the entrancing, the bright,

Love brilliant and bold with his pinions of gold,

Like a whirlwind, refulgent and sparkling.

It’s Only Fear (That Keeps You Locked in Here)

11 May

INSIGHT. Noun

  • S: (n) penetration, insight (clear or deep perception of a situation)
  • S: (n) insight, perceptiveness, perceptivity (a feeling of understanding)
  • S: (n) insight, brainstorm, brainwave (the clear (and often sudden) understanding of a complex situation)
  • S: (n) insight, sixth sense (grasping the inner nature of things intuitively)

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Language Liquidation

9 May

In his novel Notes from the Underground, Dostoevsky creates a landscape in space free from attachment to time and tenses. The unique time horizon in Underground allows for a natural flow and discussion of ideas that need not be in a a logical sequences of cause and consequential effect. I wonder if escaping from a world with a linear time horizon is in fact a way outside of the world of intentions, enabling a discussion of intention without defining it by itself. 

Chasing the tail of lingering curiosity, I want to continue my engagement in a philosophical discourse with infinite room to discuss all that is the sublime and the beautiful. The dissonance between what I mean and what I say, and what I say and what I mean, is open air for error and I hope to tighten and eventually achieve a bound entity within (from between) them. This process must be slow or it is not meaningful….Where I stand today, I am befuddled by words.

Clumsily, I continue to grasp at thin air hoping to pull what I mean out of the vapid, vacuous knowledge of how I have known its verbalization. To start, I would like to clarify the self-depreicating connotations in ‘clumsy’; the nature of clumsy here is not the effect of carelessness, but rather, courage to cultivate and initiate a journey towards seeking. As is the case with most processes, what is not shaky will inevitably become increasingly strong footed and confident.  Moreover,  words themselves already are prone to wobble, in part because they no longer have the connotations and denotations that rests in their etymological origins.

Through liquidating language, an intentional sublimation of words as I know them today , in their solid, crystalised forms, I can come closer to knowing the sublime and the beautiful. An ideological improvization:

On The World of Art: “…It was, as Benois himself admitted, ‘not this, that or the other in isolation, but everything together.'”

Crepuscular |krəˈpəskyələr|

adjective
of, resembling, or relating to twilight.

  • Zoology (of an animal) appearing or active in twilight.
  • ORIGIN mid 17th cent.: from Latin crepusculum ‘twilight’ + -ar 1 .
  • Crepuscular is a term used to describe some animals that are primarily active during twilight, that is at dawn and at dusk.[1] The word is derived from the Latin word crepusculum, meaning “twilight.”[1] Crepuscular is thus in contrast with diurnal and nocturnal behavior. Crepuscular animals may also be active on a bright moonlit night. Many animals that are casually described as nocturnal are in fact crepuscular.[2] Within the definition of crepuscular are the terms matutinal (or “matinal”) and vespertine, denoting species active in the dawn and dusk respectively.
  • The crepuscular mood of Russia’s fin de siecle  is reflected more powerfully than in Chagall’s Mirror of 1915, one of the most trenchant works of his Russian years.

trenchant |ˈtren ch ənt|
adjective

  • 1 vigorous or incisive in expression or style : she heard angry voices, not loud, yet certainly trenchant.
  • 2 archaic or poetic/literary (of a weapon or tool) having a sharp edge : a trenchant blade.
  • DERIVATIVES
  • trenchancy |- ch ənsē| |ˈtrɛntʃənsi| noun ( in sense 1) .
  • trenchantly |ˈtrɛntʃəntli| adverb ( in sense 1) .
  • ORIGIN Middle English (sense 2) : from Old French, literally ‘cutting,’ present participle of trenchier (see trench ).
woman
noun
  • ORIGIN Old English wīfmon, -man (see wife , man ), a formation peculiar to English, the ancient word being wife .
  • 1 a woman got out of the car lady, girl, female; matron; Scottish lass, lassie; informal chick, girlie, sister, dame, broad, gal; grrrl; literary maid, maiden, damsel; archaic wench, gentlewoman; (women) womenfolk
  • 2 he found himself a new woman girlfriend, sweetheart, partner, significant other, inamorata, lover, mistress; fiancée; wife, spouse; informal missus, better half, main squeeze, squeeze, babe, baby; dated lady friend, lady love.

Serpentine: serpentine   (sûr’pən-tēn’, -tīn’)

  • Any of a group of greenish, brownish, or yellowish monoclinic minerals, occurring in igneous or metamorphic rocks. They are used as a source of magnesium and asbestos. Chemical formula: (Mg,Fe)3Si2O5(OH)4.
  • ser·pen·tine   (sûr’pən-tēn’, -tīn’)    adj.  Of or resembling a serpent, as in form or movement; sinuous. Subtly sly and tempting.n.   (-tēn’) Any of a group of greenish, brownish, or spotted minerals, Mg3Si2O5(OH)4, used as a source of magnesium and asbestos, and in architecture as a decorative stone.[Middle English, from Old French serpentin, from Late Latin serpentīnus, from Latin serpēns, serpent-, serpent; see serpent.]

sin·u·ous  (sny-s) adj.

  • Characterized by many curves or turns; winding: a sinuous stream. Characterized by supple and lithe movements: the sinuous grace of a dancer. Not direct; devious. Sinuate: a sinuous leaf.[From Latin sinusus, from sinus, curve.]
  • sinuous [ˈsɪnjʊəs] adj; full of turns or curves; intricate; devious; not straightforward ; supple; lithe Also sinuate
  • [from Latin sinuōsus winding, from sinus a curve]Prodigal, pushing moral and esthetical boundaries, prodigal,  curvy, founded in nature,
  • International, interdisciplinary effecting ballet, art, thought etc

The Hypostases

7 May

The Neoplatonic hypostases in relation to other esoteric systems of thought:

This diagram shows Consciousness in terms of progressive gradations of subtle worlds and aspects/substrates (of Physical, Emotional, and Mental), as well as increasing Transformation and Transcendence

The Spiral Dance – Special 20th Anniversary Edition A Rebirth of the Ancient Religion of the Goddess, by Starhawk — extended excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Between the Worlds

The moon is full. We meet on a hilltop that looks out over the bay. Below us, lights spread out like a field of jewels, and faraway skyscrapers pierce the swirling fog like the spires of fairytale towers. The night is enchanted,

Our candles have been blown out, and our makeshift altar cannot stand up under the force of the wind, as it sings through the branches of tall eucalyptus. We hold up our arms and let it hurl against our faces. We are exhilarated, hair and eyes streaming. The tools are unimportant; we have all we need to make magic: our bodies, our breath, our voices, each other.

The circle has been cast. The invocations begin:

All-dewy, sky-sailing pregnant moon,

Who shines for all.

Who flows through all…

Aradia, Diana, Cybele, Mah…

Sailor of the last sea,

Guardian of the gate,

Ever-dying, ever-living radiance…

Dionysus, Osiris, Pan, Arthur, Hu…

The moon clears the treetops and shines on the circle. We huddle closer for warmth. A woman moves into the center of the circle. We begin to chant her name:

“Diana…”

“Dee-ah-nah…”

“Aaaah…”

The chant builds, spiraling upward. Voices merge into one endlessly modulated harmony. The circle is enveloped in a cone of light.

Then, in a breath — silence.

“You are Goddess,” we say to Diane, and kiss her as she steps back into the outer ring. She is smiling.

She remembers who she is.

One by one, we will step into the center of the circle. We will hear our names chanted, feel the cone rise around us. We will receive the gift, and remember:

“I am Goddess. You are God, Goddess. All that lives, breathes, loves, sings in the unending harmony of being is divine. “

In the circle, we will take hands and dance under the moon.

“To disbelieve in witchcraft is the greatest of all heresies.” Malleus Maleficarum (1486)

Everywhere is the Face of G-d

6 May

Insight from the Qua’ran:

Sura – 2 The Heifer ( Al-Baqarah)
Order Of Revelation 87, Verses: 286

Like a freedom fighter fights for his land,
He held a pen in the palm of his hand.
Who would describe the love in his eyes?
Or the words he writ ; the tears that he cried.
His words justified not the eternal feel
The ecstacy left his utterance sealed
His soul flew high and his body dead
Drenched in madness he at once said:
‘This body you see is not really me.
It is just the shell of what used to be.
Pain has left and my mind is clear,
Best you can do is wipe my tears.
The joy I feel is impossible to tell.
Come. Come. dive in the well”
As ghoosebumps sprung I could clearly see,
That at last, my friend, he was finally free.
Like a freedom fighter fights for his land,
He held a pen in the palm of his hand.
For years I’ve prayed this would be my lot,
And now everywhere there is a face of God.
-  Everywhere you turn is the Face of God.”  – Quran (2:115)

Homer-The Iliad: Book XVIII (I Seek This When I Need This)

11 Apr

Bk XVIII:468-617 Hephaestus forges Achilles’ armour

With this, Hephaestus returned to his forge, turned his bellows on the fire, and ordered them to begin. The set of twenty nozzles blew on the crucibles, sending out a varying blast of air at need, aiding his careful efforts as required, at every stage of the work. Into the crucibles went stubborn bronze, tin, precious gold and silver. He set up a great anvil on its block, and took a massive hammer in one hand and a pair of tongs in the other.

Then he first made a shield, broad and solid, adorning it skilfully everywhere, and setting round it a glittering triple rim, with a silver strap attached. Five layers it had, and he decorated it with subtle art.

On it he showed the earth, sea, sky, the tireless sun and the full moon, and all the constellations that crown the heavens, the Pleiades, Hyades, great Orion, and the Bear, that men also call the Wain, that circles round in its place, never bathing in Ocean’s stream, while gazing warily at Orion.

On it he showed two fine cities of mortal men. In one there were marriage feasts, and to the light of blazing torches, the brides were led from their rooms and through the city, to the sound of wedding songs. Young men circled in the dance, whirling round to flutes and lyres, while women stood in their doorways gazing. But the men had gathered in assembly, where two of them were arguing a case, contesting the blood price to be paid for another’s death. The defendant claimed he had paid all that was right, putting this to the people, but the accuser refused his acceptance, and the pair of them sought arbitration. Both were cheered by their supporters, whom the heralds firmly restrained. The Elders sat on the sacred bench, a semi-circle of polished stone, receiving the speaker’s staff from the loud-voiced heralds, and rising to give judgement in turn. At their feet lay two talents of gold, the fee for the one who gave the soundest judgement.

The other city was besieged by two armies clad in glittering armour. Their plan was to attempt to sack it, or accept instead a half of all its wealth. But the citizens resisted, and secretly were arming for an ambush, their beloved wives, the children, and the old left to defend the walls, while the rest set out, led by Ares and Athene, all made of gold. Tall and beautiful in their golden clothes and armour, as gods should look, they rose above the smaller warriors at their feet. Another scene showed them by a river, a watering place for the herds and a likely place to mount their ambush, and there they were seated in their bronze armour. Then in another two scouts were posted, waiting for sight of a herd of sheep or glossy cattle. Then there was shown the herds’ arrival, with two herdsmen behind playing flutes, ignorant of the cunning ambush. Then the ambushers were seen, rushing out to attack them as they neared, quickly cutting out the herd of cattle and the fine white flock of sheep, killing the herdsmen. Next, the besiegers were shown, sitting in assembly, or rising at the sound of cattle, or mounting behind their high-stepping steeds and racing towards the action. And finally he showed the ranks in battle at the river, attacking each other with bronze-tipped spears. Strife and Panic were at work, and ruthless Fate, here laying her hands on one man freshly wounded, there on another still unscathed, and next dragging a corpse through the chaos by its feet. The cloak about her shoulders was red with human blood. Just like living men they seemed to clash and fight, and drag away the bodies of those killed.

On the shield also, he depicted fallow-land, soft, rich, broad and thrice-ploughed, and on it ploughmen were driving their teams to and fro, and where they turned at the field’s end a man held a cup of honeyed wine in his hands to give to them, so they were eager to wheel about at the end of the rich furrow. Behind them the field, though made of gold, looked black as if it had been ploughed, a wonderful feature of the work.

On the shield also, he showed a royal estate, where labourers were reaping, with sharp sickles in their hands. Armfuls of corn were falling in swathes along the rows, while sheaves were being bound with twists of straw. Boys were gathering up the armfuls and carrying them to the three binders, while the king, staff in hand, stood joyfully and silently beside them. Heralds in the background beneath an oak were readying a feast, dressing a great sacrificial ox they had slaughtered, while women sprinkled the meat with white barley ready for the labourers to eat.

On the shield also, he portrayed in gold a fine vineyard laden with grapes, though the clusters of heavy fruit were black, and the vines were tied to silver poles. Round it was a ditch of blue enamel, and outside that a fence of tin and a single path led to it, that served for all the coming and going of harvest time. Girls and youths, were joyfully carrying off the ripe grapes in wicker baskets, while in their midst a boy sang of Linos, in a sweet treble voice, to the pleasant music of the clear-toned lyre. They all skipped along, with a chorus of cries, beating the earth in time, with dancing feet.

Then on the shield he showed a herd of straight-horned cattle, in gold and tin, lowing as they trotted from their byre to graze at a murmuring stream beside the swaying rushes. Four herdsmen, also in gold, walked beside them, and nine swift dogs ran behind. But in the next scene two savage lions in amongst the leaders were gripping a bull that bellowed loudly, dragging it off, pursued by youths and dogs. The lions had torn the bull’s flank open, and were devouring its innards, lapping the dark blood, while the herdsmen tried in vain to set the swift hounds on them, the dogs scared to grapple, but running in barking, then leaping aside.

On the shield, also, the lame master-smith added meadowland full of white sheep, in a fine valley, with sheepfolds, huts and pens.

Then he inlaid an intricate dancing floor like that which Daedalus once made in spacious Cnossos for long-haired Ariadne. Young men, and girls worth many cattle, were dancing there, their hands clasping one another’s wrists. The girls wore white linen with pretty garlands on their heads; the young men fine-woven tunics with a soft sheen, daggers of gold hanging from their silver belts. Here, they danced lightly with skilful steps, like the motion a potter gives his wheel when testing it out to see how it will run. There, they ran in lines to meet each other. And enjoying the lovely scene, a host of people stood round about, while a pair of acrobats whirled among them, keeping time to the dance.

Finally, round the rim of the solid shield, he laid out the mighty stream of Ocean.

When the large heavy shield was done, he made a breastplate for Achilles that shone brighter than flame; a massive helmet to fit his head, a fine one cleverly embossed with a crest of gold; and greaves of pliable tin.

And when the lame god had wrought the armour, he took it and set it down in front of Thetis. Then she swooped like a falcon, from snow-topped Olympus, bearing Hephaestus’ gleaming gift.

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