Echo (A Retelling of Metamorphoses)
Hey Friendly Followers! I’m super busy this week but in an effort to keep posting I’m version of fragments of Ovid’s story Metamorphoses. I wrote this for an English assignment last year so it’s a little bit longer then most of my posts. Hope you like it!!
“Get down from there!” Jenny yelled to Nathan, the 7-year old boy she baby sat. This was the 5th time that day Nathan had climbed in a tree that was far too high and dangerous for a kid his size. She’d felt like a broken record all day having to tell him to stop, to be good and not to do this and that. Grabbing him from the tree she placed him on the ground and took his hand, “ I guess it’s time to go home if you won’t listen.” Instead of begging to stay at the park or apologizing and promising to stop, he did what most annoyed 7-year old boys would, he began the copying game and repeated what she said back to her. “Nathan not this again.” she said exasperatedly, “Nathan not this again” he replied sticking his tongue out.
“Nathan stop” She said pulling him down the path.
“I mean it, stop”
“I mean it, st–” Nathan was cut off by an elderly man, “Ah, I see you have an Echo.”
Stopping Jenny replied, “ Yes, sir, It seems I do.”
Intimidated this time Nathan said nothing. “ What’s your name Echo?” The man said to Nathan. Hiding behind Jenny’s leg he told the man his name. “Well Nathan, it’s not nice to echo people, it’s quite rude.” The old man trailed off into a story about a nymph named Echo who could only repeat what had been said the moment before and a boy named Narcissus. Jenny didn’t pay much attention, thinking of how to politely leave the conversation with the odd, old man. When the story ended with the boy falling in love with himself and dying since he could not bare to be apart from himself, Jenny whisked Nathan away claiming his mother needed him home soon.
When Jenny picked up Nathan the next day to drive him to the park all he could talk about was the funny, old man and his story. When they got to the park Nathan ran for the bench the old man had been sitting on the day before. Excitedly he looked for the man, but he was not there. “Go play on the playground, he might come later.” Jenny said in attempt to cheer him up. Nathan disappointingly went over to the other kids and began digging in the sand box. A little while later the old man appeared and took his place at the bench. As soon as Nathan saw this he ran over followed by Jenny. No longer the shy boy hiding behind her leg he was yesterday, “ Tell me another story! Like yesterday!” He said sitting down in front of the man. “ What kind of story would you like to hear, boy?” The man said. “A weird one, like yesterday!”
And so the old man began, “Up, down, no one knew the difference. Heat fought with cold, sun beating down on ice trying to melt it. A war among a world unmade. Land left with life, death and no real meaning, with opposites always at odds and everything swirling together to create friction and chaos. It was decided to be divided by the Creator’s four sons. Each son given a quarter of this land to do with as he wished. So the sons made clear the chaos, but all was still not well. The first son, Eurus owned the land of the dawns, the realms of the Arahy, he owned the morning. The second son, Zephyrus held the power to the west and it’s low glow of the sun’s setting. The third son, Borea held the cold winds of the north, the winds as frozen as his heart. The fourth son, Auguster ruled the south lands, wet and warm. With the land livable and ruled, civilization is free to grow and move. Thus the four ages began.”
“What are the four ages?” Nathan wondered excitedly. “That story is for tomorrow.” The old man said dismissively. So Jenny took Nathan home and brought him back again the next day. As soon as the old man got to the park that third day he began his story, “The god’s fought amongst themselves after the world was set. Looking down on the world seeing men fighting men, loved ones killing each other, killings being committed with no hesitation, no thought to the waste of a life.” “This sounds a little morbid for Nathan, he’s only 7 you know.” Jenny interrupted, “yes, yes it’s fine. Now don’t interrupt me again miss or I won’t tell my story.” The only man replied before continuing. ”Things were not like this before the Iron Age. Things were bad but never that bad, never with men slitting the throats of men. The blood loss of the men filling Mother nature with children and creating monstrous men. It’s a wonder how things evolved this way. The Golden Age, the first of the four ages, was a time of peace for all. No one held anger, or malicious thoughts, there was food aplenty for everyone. The earth produced the needs of civilizations and they took willingly but not greedily, the weather always promoting growth like spring all year. But with the addition of seasons in the Silver Age things began to change. Houses were to be built, fires to be burned and the earth no longer produced food all year, the people had to plant and work for their food, people began the use of animals to help with manual labor. But still the world was a good place with good people…”
The old man finished his story slowly dragging it out over the course of many days. Jenny would sit off in a world of daydreams while the old man rattled on about the world’s creation and god doing bad things with mortals and fighting always. Nathan was fascinated by these tales. He would sit and listen as long as the man would talk. One day, Nathan requested a story with action, and so the man’s tale began “Phaethon, son of Clymene and the Sun was a good boy. A boy who lived his life with only a mother present and a ominous father lurking overhead but never close enough to reach. He seeked a father, a way to close the gap he felt between himself and his history, not to discredit his mother, but without a father there would always be a part of him missing. While he had been told of his father, the Sun, how could he be sure of his heritage when he had never laid eyes on his own father. As he grew older he began to distrust his heritage, how could he be the son of the Sun? Could he really trust his Mother with nothing but her word to go by? He made no motion to further investigate his worries. After all there was nothing more for her to give him. That is until Epaphus, called him out on his boasting of being son to a god, asking what proof he had and claiming his mother’s word would not suffice. Embarrassed and ashamed Phaethon returned home with a fiery determination to gain proof. Approaching his mother he told her of what had happened earlier, “ How was I to reply? My mother said so, so it must be? I need more, I will not be made a fool for this again dear mother.” Angrily she replied, “No son of mine is a fool. What’s wrong with my word son? Have I lied to you before?” Shaken he thought and try as he might, he could not come up with a lie she had told him, but still he was not satisfied with this, “Mother while I don’t wish to offend you, I must have more solidarity then you can give me for my belief to be fulfilled.” Nodding solemnly Clymene realized the seriousness of this for her son. She sent him with directions to follow the sun to his father’s home in the heavens.
Walking up the steps to his father’s house for the first time, Phaethon was jittery and nervous. It’s nerve wracking meeting your father for the first time when your father is also the Sun. Taking a moment to ready himself he opened the doors and walked in. Immediately his father’s eyes lit with recognition, “Phaethon, my son through and through, the blood of my veins, the son of the Sun, the chip of my power, what brings you through this journey to see me. “ Finding his confidence he replied, “ Oh father, if you are who you say you are, prove it to me and to anyone who may question it. Give me something so that I and the world may know that I am your son as you are my father. Prove my mother an honest women and give me the proof I request.” Readily his father agreed, “Anything my son. Your mother is no liar she has told you nothing but the truth. You deserve the honor bestowed upon my name. Whatever you wish my son, anything at all. You ask for it and I shall give it to you. I swear by Styx anything you ask for I will give it to you.” Phaethon took this in greedily, mulling over the possible things he could ask for before deciding. In the end there was no real question of what his request would be, “Anything you say I can ask for? Then I wish for the chariot.” The Sun god immediately regretted his oath, this was the one thing he wished to withhold from his son, he feared his son would not be easily persuaded to request something different but still attempted to change his mind, “ The honor you think you will receive from this action is not what it seems. To control the chariot is not a simple task. Many gods including Jove could not will the chariot to move his way. This is suicide you foolish child. You act as if you are better than the gods, yet you can not understand that this is a death wish.” Phaethon considered his father’s words and still would not change his request. Unable to back out on his oath the Sun God explained to his own son what was to be done, “The track you must follow is clear, go to the west. The horses need no urging, the whip you hold should be used lightly and only if needed. You must hold the reins steady and steer the horses, if you give them an inch they’ll take a mile. You must stay equal distances from the earth and the sky, to close to one will cause it to burn and the other to freeze, you must stay in the middle, the left holds a great Serpent and the right holds other countless dangers. This task will take your full concentration and all your strength and even with that it will still be an impossible task.”
So when the time came Phaethon got on the horses and took off towards the west. But once they left the ground the horses pull became too much of him to handle. Fire flared out of their nostrils, illuminating the sky, the flames of their fur licked Phaethon’s body, burning him which caused him to release the reins. With no one to stop them the horses whirled through the area melting the ice caps and burning the towns of earth. Around and around the horses went leaving fire and death in their wake. Simultaneously, the heat from the horses started burning away Phaethon’s flesh—”
“Oh, shoot look at the time, I’m sorry for interrupting but we have to leave.” Jenny said not liking where the story was headed. “ Awe Jenny, can’t we stay a little longer? I want to know what happens. It’s almost over.” Nathan reasoned. “We can come back tomorrow I’m sure the story can wait till then,” She said already grabbing Nathan’s hand and walking away.
Excited the next day to hear the rest of the story, Nathan ran to the bench to greet the old man who had not yet arrived. Determined, Nathan waited. And waited. And waited, till it was far too late for him and Jenny to still be at the park. “I’m sure something just came up. He’ll be back tomorrow” Jenny said when she finally declared they could wait no longer. But when they returned the next day the old man did not show once again. He didn’t come the day after that, or the day after that, or any of the days after that. Jenny feared this would hurt Nathan or he would take it personally but he didn’t. Instead he would just sit on the bench everyday waiting, waiting for what she didn’t know, he knew the old man would not return. She could not figure what he could possibly be waiting for until one day a little boy walked by hand in hand with a worn out looking woman, every word the woman said the boy would repeat back to her.
In response Nathan said, “Ah, I see you have an Echo.”
Let me know in the comments below if you want to see more stories like this on this blog or just any thoughts you might be thinking. Love always!!
on April 30, 2014