My name is Sisyphus.
If it were not for me,
Mortals would have nothing
To talk about at all.
I am responsible
For the apparent rise
Of the Sun -
They give me no credit
For its fall!
I am not deaf to the gossip about me and my shameless stone.
An author lately said that I lead an entirely futile life
Of one absurd revolution after another,
Instead of doing what any man in his right mind would surely do
If he knew what was rolling down the mountain -
Free himself forthwith and forever from Fate!
Not that he could if he would.
People hardly know what they are talking about,
Hence I periodically enlighten them.
Why? Because they have rocks for heads, that's why,
And I am duty bound to trick the inmates of this rolling round house
Into shattering their stones to free themselves
From the concatenations of their foolhardiness.
Wherefore I am named Sisyphus or Se-sophos,
Meaning, Very Wise.
And what have you done for us lately?
I so loved the world that I created God.
Blasphemy! Vanity! Impiety! Perjury! Absurdity!
Who surpasses all mortals in intelligence,
Who is shrewdest in contrivances like a god,
Never learn from the gods
That he is merely a mortal man?
He uses god's power to destroy god.
He names god to flatter himself.
He exalts ungodly over godly.
He lies against his own law.
What could be more absurd?
Will you stand by silently, confronted as you are by these capital charges?
I have already said enough to incriminate myself.
I am charged with ridding the community of deception whether it likes it or not.
Then you have multitudes to condemn. Heads must roll. Streets must run red with blood gushing from necks gaping on every corner. Few will be left standing in the end.
Be gone, Critias, we need no bloody tyrant over us here! We are equal under the law, and our law is by, for, and of the people.
What greater tyranny can there be than democracy over noble virtue? A noble character is more credible than any law, for no mere talker may overcome it. Many severed heads of big talkers have been attached to our rostrum.
Aristocratic heads for the most part. We each are humbled by our numbers. Noble virtue will not overcome the dignity of our laws or our god, nor shall big talkers. This man Sisyphus claims to have so loved the world that he created God, thus he vainly puts his cause before the First Cause.
If he speaks truly, he has created a tyrant over fools, and you should thank him for exposing the truth about your divine idiocy. Gods, states, laws, all these are tyrants, yet you call me tyrant. I fear not your tyrany, for if gods, states and laws are human creations, they are no match for the learned man.
A tyrant and a sophist! What more could we ask for in a big talker with a claim to nobility instead of divinity? If only he were a demagogue we might call ourselves free.
Truly your political order is your religion and your demagogue its talking idol.
I created the gods before I created the one and only god - and that was a restoration.
So you speak! And you further incriminate yourself. Perhaps you are the self-created god. I put this question to you, if you care to answer: Why were the gods created?
There was a time when the life of all men
Was unordered, bestial, the slave of force:
There was no reward for the virtuous;
There was no punishment for the wicked.
So men devised laws of retribution,
That Justice might be their great dictator,
Having arrogance as its servile slave,
And if anyone sinned, he was punished.
Since the laws now forbade them to commit
Their usual crimes out in the open,
They began to commit them secretly.
A very wise and clever man appeared,
And for love of man he invented fear
Of the gods, that mortals might have on hand
Useful means of frightening the wicked
If in secret they did or thought of some
Evil deed. And therefore he introduced
The Divine, saying that there is a god
Flourishing with immortal life, hearing,
And seeing with his mind, and thinking of
Everything and caring about these things,
And having divine nature, who will hear
Everything said among mortals, and will
Be able to see well all that is done.
If one secretly plans something evil,
He will never escape the gods in this,
For they have surpassing intelligence.
Together with these words he introduced
The most pleasant of teachings heard by men,
Covering up the truth with false theory,
He said the gods dwelt in remote places,
Out of reach of the understanding of
Mere earthly mortals, where he could therefore
Use gods to frighten men out of their wits,
And convince them hard life has its rewards
And its punishments in a hereafter,
As dictated from those upper regions,
Where they saw lightning and heard dread thunder,
Beheld the star-faced body of heaven,
The beautiful embroidery of Time -
The skilled craftsman who brought forth the bright mass
Of Sun, and wet shower upon the Earth.
With many fears did he surround mankind,
Through which he established the deity
In a fitting place with his argument,
And thus he quenched lawlessness among men.
For the first time mortals were persuaded,
To believe in a high race of deities.
May I presume that this man is none other than you, Sisyphus, who have laid claim to creating the gods?
That you may presume.
I cannot say that I blame you for the tyranny, but I question your devices, for gods created by men are deceptions which can be destroyed by wise men.
But I am the wisest of all men, surpassing all mortals in intelligence, shrewdest in contrivances like a god.
It is best that a real tyrant rule directly by virtue of truth than for people to be deceived.
Death to Critias! Death to Critias! Death to Critias!
Your sophistry rolls over our heads day by day just to sink into night again and again. Why raise our hopes so highly? To cruelly let us down? What have we done to deserve this stoning unto death? Have you no shame?
Your punishment is most condign, for without the light of Day you would have no Apollo to attend to your far-flung future.
But what of Night and all that Darkness implies?
A living thing that needs the light must rest at night lest its yearning give it cause for burning.
But we are afraid of the dark.
Wherefore I gave you gods to mask Chaos with Cosmos, that you might understand one another and be secure in your numbers as one. Have you forgotten your cosmetic medicine so soon?
Rose from Chaos,
Dressed in Earth,
Sea, and Night.
Mother of Mystery,
Courted by Wind,
Laid a Silver Egg
In the Womb of Darkness,
Hence Love was hatched.
To move the Cosmos.
Now Darkness lives
And Night resides
In the West.
When Day retires,
In her chariot,
By Good and Evil steeded,
With her Starry Court in train.
She leads the Twins,
Death and Sleep -
Night saved Sleep from Death,
In awe of Night,
Dared not intervene.
Hides guilt and innocence,
Conceals stolen valuables,
Covers lover's charms,
Fosters fear and hope,
Turns a log into a monster,
Makes a monster into a god,
And prepares us for
The surprises of
The Enlightening Dawn.
That's my cue, the Crowing Cock. But you mentioned not the Fateful Sisters who dwell in the cave nearby. Have you forgotten your faces?
Clotho who spins,
Lachesis who draws,
Atropos who cuts,
By the light
Of the Silvery Moon,
Tell us please,
Whose face among us all
Is the most beautiful?
(to be continued)