Thursday, May 31, 2007
Wednesday, May 30, 2007
When it became known that Utnapishtim had taken up his place at the crossroads, all the princes of the people were greatly concerned. “He will send our people into a frenzy,” they said. “And then Og will come and destroy us all!” So they sent unto Utnapishtim Bera the priest; for he was cunning in all the ways of the city. “Surely Bera will make him see reason,” they said. “Surely Bera will turn the people's hearts toward us once more!”
So Bera took up his robes and his staff, and went up from the city to the crossroads where Utnapishtim stood. There he found the people gathered about Utnapishtim, though they did not understand his words, for he was a new thing to them.
Then Bera opened his mouth and spoke: “Hail Utnapishtim, friend, colleague, wisest of men! What is this that you are doing? Why are you throwing these good people into confusion? Let us draw aside and talk a while, you and I!”
“You snake!” Utnapishtim cried. “You have walked forty days and forty nights to find me, yet in all your years you have not sought so hard for Wisdom! Who is Utnapishtim that you should seek him so? At what school did you study together, that you call him 'friend' and 'colleague'!”
Then the heart within Bera was wrathful indeed, but he cloaked his anger with honeyed words: “Be not angry with me, Utnapishtim, wisest of men. I have not your learning, and would in no wise be compared with you! But cannot two wisdom-seekers be brothers in their work, though they were taught at different schools? Surely wisdom is like a mountain, whose top can be reached by many paths!”
He ended, and the people nodded their approval of the words of Bera, priest of the city.
Utnapishtim was not swayed by these words, however, and he spoke, saying: “Indeed, Wisdom is like a mountain, and there are many paths to its summit. But what would Bera know of that summit? He speaks of many paths, and fellow travelers, but what agreement and what fellowship can there be between him who seeks the top of the mountain and him who seeks the gutter of the street? Shall they not part ways from the very first?”
At this speech, the heart within Bera was filled with wrath, but again he cloaked his anger with honeyed words: “Utnapishtim has spoken an unkind thing! The tongue of Utnapishtim has uttered hurtful things! Utnapishtim says that we all must be mountain-climbers. Is there no place for those who cannot climb so high? Utnapishtim is a lover of high places, and his heart dwells with the mountains, but will he deny us any other loves? Surely the plain is a lovely thing, and the forest, and the crowded city streets. Must all men love what Utnapishtim loves?”
Thus Bera, priest of the city, spoke; and the people were thrown into great confusion. Yet all the honeyed words of Bera could not deceive Utnapishtim.
So Utnapishtim replied with a voice of laughter: “Did not I rightly call Bera, priest of the city, a snake? See how his words wind and twist! Love the lowest, by all means, but love not the lowest more than the highest!”
Twice had Utnapishtim spoken in wrath and Bera endured it; but the laughter of Utnapishtim was too much for him to bear. “Will you mock me now!” Bera raged. “What is Utnapishtim but a liar, and a deceiver of women! He fashions this 'wisdom' in his own image, and puts his words in its mouth to speak!”
Many of the people turned in loathing from the harsh words of Bera, but a part now took his side and joined their voices to his.
When he saw that Bera had revealed his true nature, Utnapishtim laughed out loud. “Now the snake shows his fangs! Who is Utnapishtim indeed, that you should listen to him? Perhaps he is a liar, perhaps he has deceived you. Seek not, therefore, Utnapishtim. Spit upon him, kick him, revile him, and Utnapishtim will be glad! Reject Utnapishtim, for so all your forefathers rejected those that Wisdom sent to them! Oh my brothers, seek not Utnapishtim, nor the words of Utnapishtim: seek Wisdom!”
When Utnapishtim had said these things, he let out a third laugh like a peal of thunder, and Bera turned and fled in dismay before the laughter of Utnapishtim; but a part of the people followed after him.
Monday, May 21, 2007
But Utnapishtim replied: "What new thing shall I teach you? Already, you know all that Utnapishtim has to say: do not lie, do not steal, do not murder! That which you do not wish to be done unto you, do not do to another! But these teachings you do not keep. How then shall Utnapishtim teach you a new thing? Behold, even if Wisdom should become a man and speak with you in the flesh you would not marvel."
When the crowds heard these words, they scoffed at him. "Og shows us new things," they said. "Each day he brings forth new marvels."
But Utnapishtim replied: "Yet you still crave more. Seven marvels cannot not satisfy you, and seventy times seven marvels lose their splendor like the grass. Paltry indeed must be the marvels of Og, King of Bashan, if he must bring new ones forth each day to please you. If you seek marvels, seek marvels that remain marvels indeed!"
Thus spoke Utnapishtim.
Monday, May 14, 2007
Monday, May 07, 2007
Thursday, May 03, 2007
One of my favorite contemporary historians of ancient Greece is Paul Cartledge. I had the misfortune to disagree with him on some points about Homer in my thesis; benighted fool that I am! That's beside the point. I also happened to site Frank Miller's "300" in my footnotes a year before the movie was released; and I must say I'm quite pleased to see that my predictions regarding it have come true. So I was fascinated to find that Paul Cartledge had written a review of the movie that can be found here. Check out Wikipedia for quite a few more. Sooner or later I'll try and commit my own thoughts to the web, but they're proving remarkably elusive.