“The Wrath of Achilles,” Michel Drolling, 1819, Wikipedia photo.

Part 2: From Battlefields to Pilgrimage

How can I give a rational account? Princes
And generals of opposing sides, offerings
To gods in vain, prayers, exulting, insulting,
Believing self-righteously theirs is the true
God. “What will you, we do?” Cynara asked.
Ambrose, two immortals resurrected for
Ages. “From these rocky heights, Ambrose
Advised, “we will witness demise of two
Warring peoples, taken by bloodshed of
Sword and spear, against advice of priests,
Ears deaf to reason’s voice, eyes blind to
Divine light, hearts rejecting greater good.”

Immortal fragments! We watched undoing
Of mankind on these Ægean peninsulas and
Isles, torrents of arrows flew, each wingéd
Lie, souls of gallant soldiers ascending as
Sparrows filling air. For weapons, armor,
Chariots, needs of sick, poor, and hungry
Trampled into ground. Alas! Burnt offerings,
Gods  to stone turned, death cycles self-
Perpetuating until hearts of men changed.
Our prayers and lamentations made for those
Who had died, led astray, slaves of hate,
Cynara and I, two immortals, walked away.

Deep into Pindus mountains we strove,
Yearning for sunlit peace of flowered
Meadows, sipping from clear-flowing
Streams of eternal life. As we distanced
Ourselves from man, we became closer if
Not one with gods, except for shepherd
Folk, who took us in as strangers, young
Couple fleeing warring strife. Small feasts
And Festivals, we gave thanks to gods,
Surety and safety from rising plague.
“How many are in your clans?” I asked.
One hundred strong was their response.

“Pythagoreans Celebrate Sunrise,” Fyodor Bronnikov, 1868, Wikipedia.

Ten of these, climbing capable to arduous
Mountain brow, Cynara and I selected for
Holy pilgrimage, temple aloft on cloud-swept
Heights, thunder rumbling day or night,
Food for several days, honeyed wheat cakes,
Prayers and embraces made, we carried no
Swords or spears, no ill will towards man
Or gods, this ten and few who part-way
Followed, began pilgrimage of faith, heights
Beyond their reckoning, for with each step
Along winding path, they were blessed.
Ten saved for ten-thousands lost.

Immortal fragments, accounts written on urn-found, brittle papyri: “It is not evident
then, that he would have never taught his children those things, the teaching of which
must have put him to expense, and, at the same time, have neglected what would
have cost him nothing, teaching them to be good men [and women] if such things was
possible to be taught?”
 — Socrates in Plato’s “The Meno.” 

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