Friday, December 28, 2012

Endoganes by Jack Lawrence

Jack Lawrence's fanciful offering to the canon of Greek mythology

In classical Greece, in the city of Thebes, there was once a vast heap of ancient rubble dreaded and untouched by all. Long before, it had been the home of a man called Endoganes. Spiky, broom thin, and bitter as salt-marsh, he forgot and forgave nothing, his house filled with clutched grudges and spiteful murmurs.

Endoganes had a daughter called Kore who secretly loved Elpidos, the youngest son of a man called Xenios. Many years before, both families had quarrelled and bad blood remained. The cause of the argument was lost to memory, having begun when Thebes was young, little more than shacks and fire pits. Unresolved down the years, the disagreement had turned septic and become a feud, with men on both sides fighting and dying, all guilty of wickedness and lies as they tried to get their way.

When Endoganes discovered Kore's secret she begged him to relent, to listen, to consider all Elpidos's good qualities, but he refused. Xenios, a kind man who had long thought the feud should end, went to Endoganes and offered the hand of friendship. But Endoganes refused.

"You will not marry him!" he told Kore night after night as he recited the terrible deeds of Elpidos's forebears, his voice low and cold, impregnable with hate. "I will never consent to it. I cannot consent. Can you not understand, child? The wrongs they have done us are wounds never to heal."

But Kore was a determined girl and that night decided to run away so she and Elpidos could elope. When she was sure her father was sleeping she gathered her belongings and made to leave. Ever after, different poets sang different songs of her fate: some said that in the dark she stumbled on the stairs and broke her neck; some that as she hurried through the city she crossed the path of a scorpion; others that she chanced on a street thief who killed her when she refused to give up her rings. Kore's soul, wrenched from life by the pull of the Underworld, cried out and, far off, Aphrodite, goddess of Love, heard her. She leaned down from her throne on Olympus, her heart breaking at the girl's tears as she cried out her story and was drawn down into Hades.

And the goddess was enraged at Endoganes's cruelty. For even through his sorrow his pride was implacable. When he learned of Kore's death he raged, heaving himself against the walls, smashing his fists into the stones, spitting out that for all his grief he would have it no other way - that, yes, it was better she were dead than bring such dishonour, such insult; and, as Aphrodite looked down upon him her anger grew, the sky at her feet boiling black, the stars weeping with fear.

"Your pride and hate, Endoganes - wounds never to heal!" she thundered, flattening the clouds. "And not a word of regret! So be it! Now, be damned from your own mouth!"

Aphrodite wove her fingers over Endoganes, drew out the hatred within him and gave it form, pouring it out across him as he slept. He awoke with the sun and screamed. Great slices opened in every inch of his flesh. Across the soles of his feet they rushed, up his legs, into his chest and arm pits, across his back and shoulders. The skin suppurated, rancid, never healing, raw with divine fury. In every liver spot and wrinkle ulcers sprouted, even in his hair, the curse cutting deep honeycombs of rot in scarlet, purple and green.

Endoganes' screams and the stench of corruption brought his neighbours. They fled in horror - rightly fearing him cursed - but not before nailing shut his doors and windows to stop the horror from escaping. Inside, the vileness drawn from Endoganes dripped and spat and leapt from him. Aching to destroy, it infected the whole house. Crawling up the walls, it chewed through them like gangrene; it strangled the fire and melted the flagstones, slipping down into the earth; the foundations cracked and dissolved and the walls and roof tumbled in, burying Endoganes.

Now unrestrained, the stink spread across the city. Aphrodite pitied the Thebans and sent a magic storm to sweeten the air and drown all traces of Endoganes upon the stones. And in her temple she commanded her priests to proclaim that no-one should clear the ruin. No-one should approach, she warned; she had cursed the ground as a symbol of all that was to be abhorred and loathed till the end of time.

The Thebans did as they were bidden. They drove great wooden stakes into the ground around the stones, blotting them from sight. From that day on no houses were built in the vicinity and all shunned the place, fearing even their shadows to fall near. The animals had heard Aphrodite too, and all that grows. As the years passed, nothing fed or flourished there. Forever more, beneath the angry eye of the goddess, all was barren and sour, the sky above was full of rust and darkness and the promise of storms.

4 comments:

  1. I love how this story weaves storytelling with myth. Love how Aphrodite is woven into this. Nice job.

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  2. does he revive by some miracle?! eg: in the far flung future, aphrodite has a tiff with one of her sisters who brings him back as a symbol of revenge? then we can see him played by arnold schwarzenegger in a movie set in a futuristic dystopia where he brings his wrath to rain upon the innocent lovers who hide from a dictatorship which grows foetuses 'matrix' stylee and forbids all human coupling?
    i really liked it jack- well done and happy 2013! hope it brings with it lots of inspiration...and perhaps a publisher :)
    x Una
    we want MORE!!

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    Replies
    1. I loved the beginning, it really drew me in and it sounded like a classical Greek myth. Was it inspired from one? Loved this!

      Ziyad Hayatli

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  3. This a beautiful story. Pure poetry...the first paragraph alone is magnificent. how wondrous to paint your story with classical elements...very pleasing to the soul, like a fine cup of Greek coffee,
    followed by a shot of ouzo! Thank you.

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