An ancient myth describes how Vulcan knew Mars was seducing his wife Venus. Part One discussed how this implies the White House is likely inventing fake stories to find spies, which should hardly be surprising, considering how old the method is. Here I consider the rest of the myth, when Vulcan catches Mars in bed with his wife Venus; and what this could mean we should really do about White House counter-espionage conspiracies.
These days, almost no one knows this amazing myth, let alone think what it means. After figuring out that his wife Venus had been seduced by Mars, Vulcan spun a metal web that would catch anyone telling a lie and hung it over his bed, so catching the lovers in amorous action while he was working. The youth Mercury, messenger of the Gods, snuck in through a window and ridiculed them, while publicly revealing their snared entangle for all to see--Much to Vulcan's disapproval, in fact, who was more concerned to know the true love of his wife. Mercury defended himself, saying he was only doing his job. But on being questioned why he was sneaking through Vulcan's bedroom window in the first place, Mercury admitted he was jealous of Mars and wanted to bed Venus himself. The supreme God Jupiter decreed Mercury would never be allowed into the highest realms again....but most probably don’t know about all that, and certainly have not been thinking about it all their lives, because a classical education is so rare in America these days. So maybe it is not surprising most have never considered what this very ancient myth really means, and how it continues to represent our values even now. So I will spell it out from the very beginning.
When Homer first recorded this story, he made a cautionary tale against war, with myths like the one I cited and history combined. The Romans rewrote it as a tale of heroic military conquest, glorifying a massive concluding addition of the Trojan horse--a most ignoble deception which would have only disgusted Homer, and it's rather dubious whether it is an original story from the Trojan war at all. Homer actually concluded by how the evil king Agamemnon returned from his conquest of Troy, triumphant and victorious, only to be ignominiously murdered by his wife while in the bath. And the curse of war continued to be taught for a thousand years in ancient Greece, all the way through the tragic lessons of some of the greatest Athenians, Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus; and the curse continued even further in face of the inevitable vengeance of Persia, which mounted the largest counter attacks of the millennium; a war which many say the Greeks won because of their ideology, rather than raw power. For from their own foundation of wisdom, the Greeks sought friendly trade instead of military might, even if they disagreed with the ideologies of their trading partners.
And when the Athenians called their friends for aid against the invading hordes of Persia, the mightiest warriors of the world literally ran to their aid. So the Greeks further enjoyed the greatest blossoming of peaceful culture that the West has ever really known, comparatively for their time. Their tiny seed of democracy even grew into the Crimea--a bastion in testament to the best of ancient Greece, which ironically we have been unable to visit due to trade sanctions against Russia.
Even the New Testament was written in Greek. But we have neglected to treasure most other ancient-Greek ways. Perhaps the real tragedy is the wiping of that millennium of learning from our own culture. Now most people wrongly think the Trojan horse ended Homer's account of the war. Most Americans still don't know that Agamemnon was cursed for his wrongful invasion of the Middle East. Few people have understood that for more than a thousand years. So the error has continued to repeat, and the wars in the Middle East have continued. Many, many times.
Yet even so, the myths of the Gods survived--with different names--through the centuries, perhaps because the war-loving Romans did not really understand them all, thinking them no more than quaint. So such wisdom was not rewritten, and it was preserved through the following eras of ignorant hostilities, from which we could learn not so importantly of them, but rather, of ourselves. With myths so fundamental to the world we know, so transformed, that yet nonetheless survived the passage of time and taught so many before; now so forgotten, so frequently misunderstood in the USA; with such myths, it's not an issue of names and labels, or good and bad, or right and wrong, or secrets and spies and leaks and other subterfuge.
As Aeschylus himself concluded in 500 BC, the world is filled with more layers of truths and lies than even a Greek God could count, and at some point justice must give way to empathy--A conclusion much of the world is still struggling to understand.
Consequences are not based on the truths and lies themselves, but whom we really are, and whom we want to be. The truths and lies we choose to focus upon in our decisions serve only that purpose. Whether it is the youthful belligerence of Mercury in the media, or its consequential fall and wisdom of Hermes, or the industry of Hephaestus, or the war and love of Mars and Venus, or the judgment of Zeus, or some other model we choose for our role: that is up to us. Together, those choices will define the United States as a nation. And the fates will unavoidably dictate the consequences.
In the first part of this article, I wrote how "The White House Makes Fake News To Find Leaks." I could produce more evidence of lies from the White House, and others could argue they are for less sensible purposes. Or they could argue about what is best for the USA, instead of attacking each other in mostly childish opinions of what other people besides themselves are complaining about; attacks with motivations far less than the noble intents which the aggressors claim they promote. Less noble, but perhaps more understandable. Homer wrote how Odysseus needed far more than the seven years of the Trojan war to recognize that. Odysseus even had to visit Hades before he learned that humility alone would let him reach his home. How many more years will it take our nation to realize that? How many more years of blame and finger pointing?
If you listen closely enough, you can even hear how much they have been crying.
That is, all told, the real choice we will make.
If you read all this, you know what I want. And why. Please can I join an archaeological dig at Chersonesus before someone blows that up too. Most of Syria has already been ransacked into gravel. Please! What should be really important? Leaks from the White House?
- Nomination Dossier of the Property for Inclusion on the World Heritage List: the Ancient City of Tauric Chersonese, 285 pages (illus.), 31 MB PDF. World Heritage Foundation, 2013
First, I have been required to state this is my website, it is a private website, and I am neither a member of any political organization nor receiving anything whatsoever for what I share. I am an American citizen now living in California. My father was a foreign correspondent in London for the Washington Post, and on the editorial board of the New York Times. I grew up in Europe. I was fluent in Latin and ancient Greek at the age of 12. I was a scholar at Stowe, just after Richard Branson left there. I studied philosophy and psychology at Oxford University. Due to an interest in logic, I later worked as a digital technology journalist, then in engineering and technical communications in silicon valley. I worked on products for AT&T, Intel, Comcast, Apple, and others. When Steve Jobs died, I did not want to die of stress-induced disease like him, and retired. You will find other my contributions to the humanities, arts, and science on this site.