[The Legend of Perseus]

The Legend of Perseus — start of chapter 4

Far, far to the east a maid as beautiful as the dawn heard the silvery tinkle of her alarm clock. She stretched her limbs out like a flower might open its petals to receive warming sunlight and yawned, a sound as delicate and sonorous as the sweetest conversation of the dove. Eos it was, handmaiden of the dawn, she who rising from her silken couch, tells of the approach of her brother Helius, the bold and joyful one, who illumines the world each passing day with his radiance.

Singing a mellow yet intricate song to the violets that formed a rich carpet at her feet, though yet unsullied—such was the lightness of her touch—she put on her saffron robe, a gift from blazing Helius.

Her maidservants had already made ready her chariot of silver and adamant; Eos then lightly touched the manes of her horses Lampus and Phaethon with her rosy fingers and called their names gently. Then, mounting the chariot, while inky-visaged Night stood in doubt, she sped across the freshly-bedewed grass to the golden palace, east of the Black Sea, where Helius rests, and blowing a shrill, piercing, yet tuneful call on her intricately-crafted flugel-horn, greeted him.

He proclaimed the hastening day with joy, dazzling all around, including Eos, with his brightness. Eos rode on to Olympus, to tell the gods of his imminent approach. Helius, calling out one last time to his sister, fastened the four horses to his golden chariot while the sacred cockerel shrilly announced the coming morn, and with a cry of delight, he launched the team far and high into the sky, laughing as the reflected light danced playfully upon the surface of the sea.

Speeding faster than any eagle, Eos’s chariot kissed the northern Paphlagonian shores. She then flew over the Bosphorous, where many a mighty army has foundered, lightly touched southernmost Thrace, and, darting over Paeonia and the Myrtoan Sea, alighted gracefully above Olympus, where the gods lay in slumber.

She blew her horn for the second time.

‘Awake! Dwellers in Olympus, awake! For Helius, the lamp of the gods brings another day!’ she cried joyfully.

The gods stirred uneasily, trying to pretend that she was not there.

‘Awake! Gods! Immortals! Eos bids you welcome the dawn of the day!’

She played a long and delicate call on her horn. Ares stirred first. The other gods, although wide awake, were vigorously pretending to still be fast asleep, many of them snoring just for good measure.

‘Eos, you cow! Let us bloody sleep!’

‘Sleep? But look! Behold the beauty of the golden rays of Helius upon the new-burnished day! Behold the gentle awakening of all that has life, reaching out tenderly, passionately for the warmth and light he brings! Behold the roseate hues of the eastern sky, slowly dissolving as the mists subside and the flaming chariot of the sun, unassailable, unconquerable, mightier than aught that has breath, rides higher into the sky!’

‘O.K.! O.K.! We know all of that. Very nice. Now why the Hades don’t you just run along and let us get some sleep?’ said Ares grouchily.

Eos was unperturbed by the familiar irritability of the gods and rushed off in her chariot to join Helius, accompanying him on his journey. When she had gone, Zeus turned over on his back and stared skywards.

‘Every day! Every b-loody day! You’d think that she’d get sick of it, but Oh No, no way. Every day she wakes us at some ridiculous hour, to watch the bloody sunrise, for Tartarus’s sake! As if we wanted to do that!’

‘What we need is to automate the process,’ said Hermes. ‘I mean, take the personal element out of it altogether, if you get my drift. Then at least there’d be no waking of us at dawn. Someday, I’m going to suggest that to the Fates.’

Zeus gagged obscenely.

‘Rather you than me. I couldn’t suggest a tadpole turning into a frog without them jumping down my throat.’ He rolled over again.

Hermes continued with his plan:

‘What I have in mind,’ he said, ‘is having a round world which just hangs in the cosmic void, and instead of making the sun a person, make it a huge fiery globe, hanging in the void at some distance from the world. We could then get night and day by making the world spin around like a top.’

‘What are you raving about? I’ve never heard such drivel in all my life!’ said Zeus, trying to get back to sleep.