Springingtiger's Blog


The Death of Diana
March 11, 2016, 21:45
Filed under: Justice, Religion, Writing | Tags: , , , , ,

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As I walked inland from a wild and western shore I came upon a grove of trees or Maythorn scrub, but little more. As I drew near that bleak and lonely place I heard the weeping of a woman and went to see who it might be and what if anything I might do. Sitting by an ancient well I found an old woman, her eyes red with weeping. Once she might have been beautiful, but now her face was marked with regret, her body and garments with ages of neglect. She seemed lost in her own tragic thoughts so for a while I wondered if I should pass on quietly. I must have disturbed a stone or snapped a twig because startled she looked up and saw me holding me with her blue eyes a half smile on her face.

“Hello Mother,” said I, “What are you doing here alone, in this desolate place, should you not be at home by the fire?”

“I have no home here on this earth any more.” She sighed. “Once I had a home in every heart and a place at every hearth, but no more and not for many ages past.”

I was confused by her words and asked. “Who are you, lady and what is your good name?”

Her laugh was as cold as the winter wind and a sneer twisted her once fair lips, “Good name? It might have been once, but it was cursed since long before you were born. Still soon I shall be rid of it and never more shall sight of me bring sorrow to the eyes of man!”

I didn’t know whether to speak or no and so stood silent, my eyes still held fast by hers. I think she knew the hold she had on me and smiled. A cold smile, bleak and cruel and hopeless.

“You shall be the last to hear it and you shall tell no one you saw me robbed of my youth and beauty. I was once Artemis called Diana, worshipped by men throughout the world.”

“Diana?” I replied. “Diana of the Ephesians, Diana the mighty huntress of the old myths?”

“There was a time,” she said, “when I would have destroyed you for that incredulity. But as you say the myths are old and the memories have grown cold. Men who hang their young god on a tree cut down my groves and they quarried the stones of my temples for the walls of their common houses. Now I am alone and, as foretold, forgotten.” She sat silent for a while and then continued. “They used to call me beautiful, so beautiful that no one could live who saw me…Am I beautiful?”

I began to feel uncomfortable. I wasn’t sure quite what to say. It occurred to me that she was quite mad and yet the lucidity in her blue eyes suggested a percipience that stifled the lie upon my lips.

“You must have been once.” I eventually answered. “It is as if the memory of youth still hangs upon your lips and lights your eyes, but age has taken hold of the rest of you.”

Anger and sorrow filled her face together as she said, “Wisely have you spoken truth, but such a truth carries it’s own sentence of death.”

Quickly, to forestall such thoughts I asked her, “Lady, what happened to bring you to this place alone?”

She looked up into the sky towards the stars and said, “Do you see Orion? He once loved me and I slew him for it and felt no sorrow as he died. I could destroy men and gods on a whim, but it was a man who destroyed me. You have heard of Actaeon?” She asked.

I nodded.

“You have heard but half the tale,” Diana said. “You have heard of how I rewarded his gazing upon my naked body, but magic begets magic and cruelty begets cruelty. There is a power in the magical transformation and an even greater magic in death. As Actaeon fled his hounds I heard his curse, his last words carried on the Arcadian breeze, ‘May you be forgot, your cruelty not, and may you die alone!’ In Arcadia where once I roamed, the groves were cut down and replaced with olives and vegetables, the sacred streams are channelled into ditches to water crops. The bear, the wolves and the deer are long gone and only I remember.”

For a while again she paused as if lost in thought and then she asked me, “My time is near now, will you remain with me a while?”

I stood and as I turned away I answered, “Cruelty begets cruelty and I shall leave you alone.”

Diana tried to rise, but there was no more strength in her and she fell to her knees, her blue eyes pleading, “Why?”

As I walked away I smiled and called back over my shoulder, “You are not the only one who remembers!”

Overhead the crows circled in the cold evening air and I shed a tear for her blue eyes.

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