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081120-Pol-Essay01

Page history last edited by Nick 11 years, 1 month ago

Last updated November 20th, 2008.


 

The Aspect of Polynices

Written by James; revised by Nick

 

Polynices Stands a Head Taller Than Other Men

In the tales of bards and fools, told around the hearths on cold, dark evenings, to the listening ears of the young and the wizened alike, that long after the youngest son of the youngest son of the earth-mother rose up and overthrew his father, as his own father had done to his father, though still in the early days of the world, that the cleverest of the titans Prometheus, and his well-meaning but simpleton of a brother Epimetheus, set to the task of creating what we know today as mortal man.

 

Of all the creatures and creations of the world set forth by all the titans and all the gods of Olympus, mortal man was to be the pinnacle of their achievements, a monument to the power and pride of these great, elder beings, and a testament to their everlasting glory. It was Epimetheus and his clever brother Prometheus who fashioned man from the clay of the earth, breathed air into his lungs, and set him down again to let him live upon and care for the world of his birth, and the mother of all mothers, Gaea.

 

Unto all the other creatures of the world, each of the titans and gods bestowed singular gifts to show their love and devotion to their creations, and when it came to man, Epimetheus, who had been spared the fate of his titan brethren, nearly all of whom had been cast down into Tartarus after the cataclysmic Titanomachy, was unable to devise a suitable gift for this newest of creations, man. Prometheus, had an idea, and after sending his dim-witted brother away from the earthen pit, Prometheus bestowed upon man a gift greater than that of any bird or beast or rock or plant: he gave to man the spark of intelligence, the drive to create, and the humble beginnings of what might even be divinity.

 

Prometheus, whose pride would cost him most terribly when he challenged those who ruled the world, loved man as a father would love his children, and he watched over them and taught them to survive and tend to their divine mother, Gaea, so that she would always grow and prosper, and in turn, she helped man to grow and prosper, much as she helped Zeus, the king of gods, and Cronus, the king of the titans, long before the existence of man.

 

The gods paid little mind to the creatures they themselves had created, and many an age passed before they noticed the workings of the mortals begot by Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus. Villages of man spread throughout the world, and monuments were raised that resembled miniature versions of those raised by the titans and their ilk long before the advent of man. The gods then recognized in man the spark of divine intelligence they coveted for themselves, and they were driven to mock and cruelly torment mankind with famine and plagues and violence and war. Artemis empowered her beasts with the ferocity to terrorize and feast upon man. Apollo scoured the landscape with the chariot of Helios, that drove many a man to shrivel up from thirst and perish under the light of the uncompromising sun.

 

However, with each of these terrors, the intelligence sown within man by the fatherly Prometheus prevailed, and with each new incarnation of man, the beasts were turned back and gradually conquered, and shelters were built to protect man from the punishing rays of the sun. Conspiring with their mother Gaea, man sought to make a place for himself in the world, and so endured. When at last, Zeus called upon Poseidon to send a torrent of storms and rain upon man to drive them from their homes, and Zeus himself cast thunderbolts from the heavens to strike the men who clambered high on the rocks to escape the drowning waves, Prometheus sought a more direct course of action to aid his children.

 

Prometheus stole to the halls of the gods and took from them many of their secrets; those things that he wished to share with his children, and he crept to the hearth of Hestia. Taking from the sacred hearth the embers of a fire, he stole once more back down the mountain of Olympus, whereupon he gave the glowing coals to his children, and taught them the means by which to create and tend their own hearths.

 

Knowing that Zeus would soon come down upon him for his treacherous thievery, Prometheus set out to fashion one last creation before he met with punishment. Trekking into the deepest part of the Gaea, the earth, Prometheus took from her the richest of clays and softened them with the purest of waters of Poseidon, and therewith crafted a new man; a greater man. The eyes he made from precious gems taken from the domain of Hades and the glaze he used was blood cut from his hand by way of a golden knife, and he fired his creation in the furnace of Hephaestus. Prometheus finished his work and turned loose his creation only hours before Zeus called for his detainment.

 

It is said that only Hades, the ruler of the Underworld, who presides over and keeps the dead, and who is lord over all the riches taken from the earth, bore witness to the creation of the Red Man of Prometheus. Hades said nothing and observed as Prometheus made his Red Man, and has kept his silence from that day forward, owing his domain to Gaea, who bade him swear to secrecy for the protection of her children.

 

The Red Man of Prometheus commingled with the other living children of Prometheus, and from his blood evolved a tribe that had the strength and forethought of their father and creator; forged with perseverance to withstand the trials wrought by the hands of the gods. Filled with the Passion of Prometheus, this tribe would be filled with anger that would harden them against Zeus and his petty children, anger to sustain them until all memory of the rule of Zeus and his brood were no more than dust from the floor of a tomb.

 

It is this Red Man that Polynices, son of Tydeus, claims heritage; Polynices enters battle clad in burnished leather armor the shade of dark earth mixed with blood. So much this armor is to him that it is as flesh to bone. He wears bronze-crafted greaves and bracers etched with scenes from the island of his birth, Laertes, to remind him always of where he comes from, the rose that is the symbol of his family, and scenes of the rage of Prometheus at the petty indiscretions of the Olympians. The shoulders of Polynices are adorned with a cloak of the darkest hue, and his head is crowned with a magnificent Corinthian helm crested with a brilliant red brush that dips down to his shoulders, and the sides are graced with bronze wings of the Pegasus, and detailed etchings of the rose of his family's house.

 

The great bronze shield that Polynices carries into battle with him is adorned with the owl of Pallas Athena clutching the rose of his family. The owl is turned such that one eye is ever on the battlefield and on his opponents; this is the One Eye of the ever-watchful Prometheus. He carries with him many javelins to discourage those cowards who would refuse to face him in the honorable way, and when he enters the melee, he calls to his hand a kipos said to be from the armory of Athena.

 

To his enemies, the appearance of his battle-frenzy is brutal and terrible, so as to cleave meat from bone and limb from body; to his allies and companions he appears as a lithe dancer, performing an elegant ballet for the appeasement of Athena, the only Olympian to whom Polynices offers prayer and sacrifice. Once part of a phalanx, Polynices found that he was much more suited to an acrobatic style of combat. Moving gracefully between lesser enemies, he finds the target of his wrath and drives his blade into the heart of his intended foe. Many a bard has sworn that if not for the din of the raging battle, they could hear the music of Dis playing in time to his stride and swing.

 

This is the man who stands a head taller than other men. So is the aspect of Polynices.

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