Story: Greed and Grief
Jarrett’s story was an honorable mention in the Artemis vs. Apollo Contest. I love the epic poetry angle he took! It’s so much fun to read. His imagery and adjectives are charming, both where he calls on classic uses like “grey-eyed Athena” and “far-striker Apollo,” and where he’s innovating new ones.
Greed and Grief
By Jarrett Rumoro
Sing, goddess, the greed and grief of Apollo and Artemis, who although do share their kindred bond of eternal Olympic blood now do struggle to share the balance between nature and science. For it was Zeus who gave Apollo his intellect and cultured ways to balance the intuition and conscience of his sister Artemis, huntress of the forest, Queen of all things green, slayer of Acteon and Orion, and lover of nature. And so it was, and must have been, kingly Zeus to heal the trust broken between brother and sister so that past and present greed and grief could find a more suitable sustainable future.
Soft is summer on Delphi, where far-striker Apollo handsome in face and gorgeous in wit sits atop his peak smiling at what has become his masterpiece of culture. “Life is large, and I am in charge,” so he said, as he looked upon his lyre to begin the morning song to reward his faithful Delphic followers. Each day, as his music bellows forth, and his sacred song is thusly heard, all those stop to listen for the rhythm of life and search for the clues in his musical grace.
There he played, mythic and Phoebus Apollo, adorned in smooth toga flowing down with waving and artful folds as if they were chiseled out of stone by skillful Hephaestus himself. Steady handed in his way, with his arrows near his bedside, and strong-armed bow never more than a leap away from his musical and fortuned fingers. And this is why the people pray to him, because in all his golden glory he does shine the light of knowledge down to the world. He is their giver of medicine, to take or make sickness a curse or cure. So it is natural for them to love him, and him them, because for many millennia their dance ordained by bolt wielding Zeus has created learning, art and poetry and an elevated way about civilized life.
You see, for Apollo the world has been and will always be best citied and structured, with learned science guiding mankind forward toward prosperity and health. His preference is to have the people living within the walls of the unwavering temple with fancy Ionic columns geometrically supporting the weight of heavy massive marble slabs. And in his mind, the grey stone would tell the story of Apollo’s greatness, a façade of symbolism etched with masterful reliefs that would echo for centuries like an immortal bard; these lifeless but solid walls would recount the tale of the Python’s death by his darts or of the infamous Cassandra whose lies betrayed his misplaced love.
But focus is fickle, and so too was it so with the beautifully divine far-striker Apollo. Because while it does take tempered skill and dedication to connect arrow with eye’s aim, it is often best one eye closed and one eye open that leads to besting shot. Thus while one eye is closed so that he can focus on smashing his target with perfect precision, the other is closed and therefore cannot appreciate the collateral damage of intense concentration. As time goes on, Apollo is focused on his task of developing the art of scientific knowledge, so that life is made easy and safe for mankind’s ailments and lifestyle. After all, it is easier to travel by wheel than by foot, and for years now the wheel has been powered by oil through scientific creation. But as the rapid spin of the wheel has made life quicker, so too has risen the speed of an evil destruction in Earth’s delicate nature. Far-striker Apollo’s struggles with Gaia are now evidenced and channeled in mankind’s more capitalistic and covetous pursuits. Forsaken are the words of those who ask this question: has the divine Apollo let his intellect interfere with his appreciation, sense, and respect for nature? Most notably, this inquisition is proffered by his pure and virgin sister Artemis who stands in the forest as a huntress protecting her innocence from unjust suitors.
Amid Apollo’s search for more civilized life and culture, a dark and dangerous cloud has creeped over many people’s hearts and homes, and their cries of despair can be heard echoing in the precious peaks of Mt. Olympus.
A salted tear ripples a stream where willow-bound Artemis lays to rest her heavy heart. Alpheius, who loves the untainted goddess of childbirth and wilderness, cries forth his waters to dry her memory of a more perfect day. Her golden bow is heavy today, as it hangs down at her side like swift-footed Achilles’ shield. Artemis, oh how perfect she is, even in her depression and sadness she is more beautiful than Olympic sunset. Her hair is wind with flower’s scent, soft silk draping down with curling bends! Every locket is golden streaked, as if King Midas has touched every strand on her divine head. She’s captivatingly stunning, and her beauty is unmatched, and if anybody sees her they can’t help but become more attached.
Lifting up her pretty head with hands supplicating to the clouding skies, fair Artemis screams, “Oh father and maker Zeus, are you punishing me for letting Acteon’s dogs loose? Or is my fate this plight because I forced Orion to the starry night?” Although the words go immediately unanswered they do not go incidentally unheard. Her mother Leto takes notice as she cautiously watches her daughter weep for the forest which is her heart and home. After a pause, Artemis looks back to the water to resolve her thirsting lips. Reaching down, cupped divine hands dip into a cool, fast paced stream: “With this sip may I quench my thirst, because in my soul I’ve never felt worse!” Her faithful hunting dogs follow her lead, and drink to quell their belly ache need. So too does the doe, a deer in the blind, who today does not fear her spears because divine Artemis is crying.
Swallowing the liquid is fine, or so it seemed at first, as it cooled her parched throat. But as her taste is awakened Artemis now knows the river water is tinted, a taste of something not right, because what once was pure now has been tainted. Without making an expression and thereby sharing her concern with her canine companions, she turns away from the river to look at the forest. Where the grass had once been green and the trees aplenty, there now lies dirt and the meadows are empty. Where will she take cover to enjoy shade from the sun? She wishes the moon would rush down to save her, night cannot come sooner. Zeus has been fair and just to his children, for if her brother Apollo must have the sun then she must have the moon.
High noon is burning through a smoke filled sky. She can see in the far off distance a city full of life, love, and but she thinks to herself why are their temples so toxic? Being alone, and with nature, was the way the goddess preferred things, but now she is losing the company of even the trees and greens which provided her with pleasure and comfort. Everything has become more difficult for the divine Artemis, the land’s less fertile so too the seas. Temperature has changed, so much warmer than ever, the warmest November, December that she can ever remember. And although she is a goddess and worshiped by many, it seems the masses have forgotten to keep the giver of fertility happy.
Leto, with her queenly keen conscience, seeing her divine daughter in such a sad state, rushed to her house where she hastily put on her best dress with brooch. After locking her lovely silver-stranded hair into beautiful braids, and spraying on her best smelling godly nectar, she fled in her golden-jeweled chariot to Olympic doors to see Zeus, to explain how their daughter Artemis was suffering with grief. If anyone can stop the divine from crying it is Zeus, father of Artemis and Apollo and ruler of all the gods. And it was Zeus who admired and adored Leto, for her beauty, for her perfect intuition and conscience, and passing these desirable and dignified traits onto their now grieving daughter.
As the chariot stopped, out jumped Leto, and her pious nerves began to shake. Even Leto, who has an elevated position and status among the gods, knows it is hard to face a familiar face with so much command. As the doors opened, Leto noticed that Zeus was sitting with grey-eyed Athena, and although she initially intended for this to be a matter of confidence, Leto realized that wise Athena’s presence may be a good twist of fortune.
With eyes welling with tears, and upon her knees, ethical Leto began her plea: “Dear consort and good king Zeus, with all your wisdom and strength I do come before you today with sad news, and to ask for your help!” Her passion and gaze gripped both Athena and lord Zeus, her tears hitting the floor could be heard in the silence that poetically and intermittently gripped their attention. Leto continued, “By way of the forest did I find our daughter, lovely and pure, Artemis is her name, and sister to Apollo, your son. She is in tears, like me, today, and has been for weeks even years maybe, because she is losing her home. Apollo, whose name you know, is drunk with civilization and his love for culture has turned slowly into greed.” She paused to swallow, her voice was not true as it usually was.
Zeus leaned down now, to lift up his consort, mother of his two children Artemis and Apollo, and said, “What crime has Apollo committed, he only is a lover of knowledge and seeker of logical ways?” Leto, upon hearing the tone and temper of the highest judge, now with more despair than fear said, “Knowledge is good, and this is true, but must not knowledge be used for the good of all? And should not be truth a source of balance between our technology and the harmonies of nature?” And Zeus agreed, “Yes, we must use it for the good of all, this is why we cherish brotherhood and understanding!”
At this point, wise and grey-eyed Athena, dressed in her usual beauty and magnificence, knew at once what had happened. Athena realized that Apollo had grown too greedy, too single minded, in the pursuit of his civilized ways and elevated culture, that he and his followers had forgot to respect Artemis and her appreciation and love for nature and the forest. And realizing the situation said, “Good father, who has given us everything, Leto is right. She seeks not to defeat the ways of Apollo altogether, but to balance his desire for knowledge and culture with Artemis’ need for solitary, purity, and nature. And is not balance the natural way of things? As the heat of the sun doth follow the shade of moon, and sweltering summer giveth way to wintery winds, and the hand of watery ocean ebb and flow across the sand filled beaches.”
Zeus paused, looked up, and knowing that wise Athena had summarized truth within a sentence’s reach, said, “You are right, we must settle this matter, we must make sure brother does not smother sister in this way.” With that being said, Zeus ordered Iris to fetch both brother and sister, so as to have a family discussion regarding the issue of greed and grief. Instead of all meeting on Mt. Olympus, where the party had presently gathered, Zeus asked Iris to bring brother and sister to Hashima Island because the great omnipotent Zeus had a plan.
Apollo and Artemis arrived at Hashima Island in due time, and when they did, the great bolt wielding god addressed them, “My children, there is an issue which we need to address.” Artemis knew that this meeting was initiated by her mother, because she could see her crying about, looking parentally onward from behind her father. Zeus continued, “Apollo has been civilizing the world, which is good, and is something I do ordain, but we need to ensure that our people do not lose sight of what is also true. We must use knowledge to fight the disease and suffering of our people, no doubt, but we must also fight to protect the nature of mother Earth, Gaia.”
Apollo beamed forward, with anger and contempt for the words with which his father had used. Apollo is proud, and as pride can blind, he could not see the truth hidden in the wise words of his father. “We created cures for disease, and music for the children to dance to father, there is electricity surging through our cities because of my hands!” And Zeus, understanding that his son’s ego was blocking his intelligence said, “Your sister cries, and rightfully so, as she is losing her home! Look at her. You justify your reasoning at the expense of her sorrow.” Zeus then reached out to Artemis, and softly touched her face so as to sweep away the hurtful tears of sadness and despair.
Seeing that Apollo was touched at the sight of his crying sister, Zeus continued, “And your music is good Apollo but does not Artemis’ nature too make music? Have not the trees melodic song, powered by the wind to make sweet music as the leaves whistle with Aeolian breeze? Is not the flower powered by the sun, which you love, and thusly able to create aromatic beauty and medicine for our sickened people? Are not the oceans, which my brother Poseidon calls home, powered by the waves that crash the rocky shores, and thereby enhancing the beauty of Eos, whose rosy fingers stretch across morning dawn skies?”
In this moment, Apollo realized his errors. Rich science and knowledge do not have to rise at the expensive fall of nature, but rather they should be fused together! As the sun does power the flower, the wind the trees, and the ocean the waves, so too can humanity be enlightened by the same. Green is good, it evidences life and shows we have a prosperous people. Zeus then said, “From here on, we need to balance the grey of our stone temples with the green of our forests!” And with this being proclaimed, Apollo looked to his sister, who was ready for conciliation and tired of wet tears. Apollo said, “My dear sister, I do love you, and we are often in competition, but today it must not be so. I want to give this here Hashima Island to you, to let your forests and nature take back what I have so selfishly taken. If my greed has caused your grief, then I do cry with you, and my heart is panged. Will you accept my gift, a token of my apologetic remorse?” Artemis, with her beaming blue and green eyes, flushed red cheeks wisped white with salted tears, looked up at her brother, and said, “I do forgive you. I love you brother, and I accept your gift. My hills and forests do not fit your civilized ways, and for this we are often at odds, but I do need my greenery because this is my blood, my beating heart.”
And with these words, Iris, who had been watching from the clouds, ran across the clouded skies, and caused a gentle rain to follow her trail, and an outstretched rainbow appeared in the perfectly colored the sky.
And such was the story of how greed and grief were cured, and how Artemis found peace with Apollo on Hashima Island.
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