Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Shorting Greek Banks: Don't Be A Fool, Zeus!

Imagine you are Zeus, sitting on your gold and ivory throne atop Mount Olympus at 2.917 meters. Feeling kinda low after yet another day of nagging from Hera, and bored of eating ambrosia and drinking nectar day after day, you decide to head down to the world of mortals for some slumming with the hoi polloi.  Ouzo readily comes to mind..

 Image result for zeus on mount olympus

You can easily turn yourself into an eagle and fly, but what the heck, it's a fine sunny Grecian day so you decide to walk  instead. After all, mere humans climb up and down mountains all the time, how hard could it be for a god? So, you strap on your sturdy walking sandals and head for the path that leads all the way down to the shores of the Aegean Sea.

It's easy at first - the path is steep, but it also means you go down the mountain fast.  After a while, however, the ground starts to level out and the sea glimmers far away in the distance. What you thought would be an easy descent becomes a long slog.  You perspire inside your finely spun silken robes (damn that Helios and his blazing chariot!), you get thirsty and hungry... and not a temple in sight with sacrificial offerings of wine amphorae and grilled meats that you could rightfully claim as your own. You pass a spring of cool water, but gods don't drink water, do they?

After a while, you reach a plateau and go by several herders tending their goats. Being a god - nay, the Chief God! - you are not going to lower yourself to the point of asking for their wine or stale, hard bread, so you slog on unrecognized.  It's now well past noon - you are parched, your lips are starting to crack in the intense heat.  Oh, what you would give for a cup of that nectar now. By Jove, even plain water would do!

After several more hours stumbling on dusty paths, you finally reach the sea.  You may be Zeus, but this is Poseidon's domain and you don't have the power to turn even a small portion of it into fresh water.  Having fallen out with your brother-in-godliness over one of his comely Nereids, you are not about to ask for his help, either.

Lucky for you, an old man comes along and lo! he has a skinful of water hanging on his shoulder.

"You there, old fella, give me your water", you cry out. "I have just come down the Mountain of Gods with not a drop to drink! I am dying (well, maybe not dying..) of thirst".

"Why, sir", says the old man, "I would gladly do so but these being hard times - frightful drought you know - water is expensive. I myself had to pay dearly for it and cannot just give it away for free. What can you give me in exchange? Any gold or silver coins on you?"  

"What? How dare you? Do you know who I am? I could turn you into a donkey!"

"Well, I don't know anything about miracles, sir, as you can plainly see I am just a humble peasant. But I do have water and you are in need of it, quite apparently.  What use would you have of an ass, anyway? Now, that's a really fine silk garment you have on.. and those sandals would go a long way to comfort my poor old feet as I go about the hard roads of Hellas... perhaps we could trade, sir?"

And that's how it came to be that Zeus sold his godly garments for a mere bucketful of water, and ended up having to explain to a smirking flying Hermes how the God of Gods had to be rescued from a deserted beach, buck naked and unshod...

The moral of the story, or the epimythion as the ancient Greeks would call it, is this: if you are gonna sell something, you better do it at the top of the mountain instead of the very bottom.

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