#FiveSentenceFiction: Confusion (for Pâris)

René JaquesAs ever, she was pleased to see him, and could sense how much her visit meant to him.

She delighted in the stories he was telling her, followed the spell of his voice, watching his lips intently: she knew of her power over him, and she knew how much she was at his mercy, without him knowing.

Now, in his presence, she forgot the long nights of regret and fear: here she belonged, both mistress and slave, at his side, at the side of this human being, who did not know who she was.

Her eyes on his mouth she was caressing the back of the beloved head: she could feel his body relaxing, getting closer and warmer.

For the power of Aphrodite is beyond mere human understanding.

#SundayMusing: Susan holds the pen

Continuing the never-ending dialogue with those elusive characters, it is my pleasure to hand over the pen to Susan, perhaps the most sinful creation of this writer’s delirious imagination.

Leonard Cohen's quoteI dislike your introduction: yes, I recognise that you have placed me in situations that many readers may find distasteful. But, pray, remember that yesterday’s taboos are today’s fads, and, perhaps even, tomorrow’s traditions. The ancient Greeks and Romans, for example, had habits in cooking, dressing, and, yes, loving, that were anathemas to the Victorians. Und so weiter, and so on…

Still, I rather like what you have written of me and Paul, although, he, has another opinion of you (this will have to wait until he gets the pen!) I enjoyed the beginning of the story, and revel in the new “Retour à Roissy“, which is, really, a new beginning. I felt inspired to write this, and intend to continue the adventures of Myriam and O.  I am fascinated by O, and a little infatuated with the woman who created her. If we try and place ourselves in her time and place, the grim France of the after-War, a time of bigotry and falsehoods, that she could write a story of such audacity, was a miracle.

As for my relationship with Mistress G, I make no secret that we are very good friends – and more. She too is a source of inspiration, and I have learnt a lot from her. I do mean to ask her to train my new pet, you know, the one Paul drilled enthusiastically not so long ago. Miss G and Helen, are, in a nutshell, what I aspire to become, in the fullness of time, with pet. Yes, I hear from your corner of the room, more question marks than I will bother to answer: I do not crave your intimacy. You are the writer, not, underlined, not, my lover.

By the way, you haven’t given pet a name. Shall we call her… Justine? I know, not very original for this genre, but, Justine appeals to me, and it will suit her too. Talking about names, I have to say you confused us, Paul and me, totally, with the tale of the multiple Melissa’s. How many versions are they? Which one is “real”, which one is ghostly?

As for your style, and sense of storyline, well, to be absolutely honest, I think you are far too complicated. But then, it’s up to your readers to judge! See you around…

#AtoZChallenge: April 9, 2013 ~ Helen of Troy

Judgementt of Pâris Your face has come to us across three millennia, in a halo of mystery and staggering beauty: you were the daughter of Zeus, king of the gods, and Leda, also known as Nemesis.  In Sanskrit, your name means “the shining one”.  The boy who abducted you, Pâris, mad with admiration and lust, suffered a terrible death, after a long war.  If this is not the stuff of legends what is?

You were born in Sparta, the city of heroes of the Mycenaean Age.  Homer sang your beauty.  You hunted with your divine brothers, Castor and Pollux, your breasts naked, proud of your skills with the bow.  Some say you gave birth to Iphigenia, from your meeting with Theseus, who went through hell to abduct Persephone.  But who knows the truth?

Out of a crowd of suitors from far and near, you married Menelaus of Sparta, your birth place.  He was a jealous man, and for good reasons.  Pâris of Troy, who knew about women – after all he had been appointed to judge of the beauty of Aphrodite – seduced you.  Hence the thousand ships.

The Trojan War was the end of the Age of Heroes, the Fall from grace.  They burnt the city of Troy to ashes – not even Schliemann knew for sure where it was –  and you died in Rhodes, where you are known as Helen of the Tree.

 Helen by Gustave Moreau

#FiveSentenceFiction: Time

AphroditeHe looked back at his footprints on the sand, soon the tide would erase his track, how beautiful this island was in the falling light, he thought.

The beach appeared empty, the only sounds the melody of the tide and the gulls’ s cries, and the wind.

His next thought was that he had failed: they do say that a time machine can’t work, against the laws of physics, the second law of thermodynamics, entropy, quantum energy…

A change in air pressure made him stop, his heart suddenly pounding, slowly he turned round…

She was there, standing tall, naked, her golden hair reflecting the moon light, the body of a goddess, a triumphant smile on her lips, a vision of splendour and divinity, her profile as ancient as the earth, Aphrodite…

#BlogMeMaybe: May 31 – May I tell you something about someone else?


Constantine For the last post in this series, I want to share with you a few facts about a remarkable man, and a historical being who has haunted me since my youth. He was the son of an officer in the praetorian guard of emperor Aurelian, and of a mother named, inevitably, in my mind, Helena, a christian Bithynian Greek. His were times of uncertainty, of civil wars and barbarian assaults on the Empire. During his life, he made his mark on five cities that are at the vortex of Western civilisation: York in Britain, Trier and Aachen in Germany, Rome itself, and Constantinople. He is, genuinely, the real defender of the Christian Faith. He was born, on 27 February, circa 272 AD, in Naissus, in present day Niš, in Serbia. He died on 22 May, AD 337, in Nicomedia, now İzmit, in Turkey. He became the 57th emperor of Rome.

In his youth he fought for the emperor against barbarians in Asia, the Danube, in Syria and Mesopotamia: he was a brilliant and fearless officer. He went on to campaign in Britain, in 305 AD. From the largest roman garrison in the country, Eboracum, now York, he campaigned against the Picts, beyond the Hadrian’s wall, at his father’s side. At the death of the then western ruler of Rome, Constantius, he was proclaimed emperor and Augustus in Eboracum, immediately recognised by the armies, in Gaul and Britain. His share of the Empire was then Britain, Gaul and Spain. As such he commanded one of the largest roman armies, stationed along the Rhine. In 306 AD he left Eboracum for Augusta Treverorum (today’s Trier) and drove the Frank invaders back, capturing two of their kings.

He continued to fight the germanic tribes whilst Italy was ravaged by civil war, but eventually was forced to intervene. After protracted battles he entered Rome on 29 October, 312 AD. In 313 he and Licinius, his brother in law and Eastern emperor, agreed the Edict of Milan, granting tolerance to Christianity and all religions in the Empire. Alas, civil war soon broke out again in 320, this time with Licinius, helped by Goth mercenaries, challenging Constantine and religious tolerance. But by 325 Constantine had triumphed against his enemies, and was sole emperor of the Roman Empire.

Constantine, after some hesitation, decided to make the city of Byzantium, his capital, Nova Roma, unifying once again the Western and Eastern Roman empires. The city was renamed Constantinopolis in 330 AD. He became the first christian emperor, and founded the new Church of the Holy Apostles on the site of the temple of Aphrodite. Throughout his rule, he would support the Church, build basilicas, and grant privileges to the clergy. In 325 he summoned the first Council of Nicaea – the first ecumenical council of the christian church – that instituted the Nicene creed, and gave the Roman Julian calendar precedence over the lunar Hebrew calendar. In his later life he considered Constantinople as his capital and permanent residence. After his victory against the Goths in 332 AD, he extended his control over Scythia. He resolved then to campaign against Persia, for the treatment of Armenian christians, and called the war a christian crusade.

He fell seriously ill after the Feast of Easter  337. As he was praying, in his mother’s city of Helenopolis, at the church of Lucian the Apostle, he knew he was dying. Bishop Eusebius of Nicomedia, baptised him, as he lay dying, a few days later, in Nicomedia. He died on 22 May, 337 AD, a christian.

The Byzantine empire Constantine founded would last another 1,000 years. Its successor, Charlemagne’s Holy Roman empire, recognised Constantine as its predecessor. For eastern christian churches he is a saint. So for me.

#AtoZChallenge: April 23 – T is for Tanagra

Your loveliness sends us dreaming of the ancient Mediterranean, the sunshine of classic Greece, and of a time long gone, of beauty and peace. They say: “Scholars have wondered why a rural place like Tanagra produced such fine and rather “urban” style terracotta figures.”

This makes me smile, and of course, we know the answer: women in Tanagra were beautiful! Look at Aphrodite playing with the child Eros (around 400 BC). This statuette evokes for me another mother and another child, centuries later. Beauty is eternal.

So, tonight, when I look at Aphrodite, I think of you, beloved sister, and in a haze, I travel to Tanagra, to meet with you.

Aphrodite and Eros