Monday, September 15, 2014

The Life of Hercules: The Golden Fleece (The Young Jason)

Seventh of a series. Here are the earlier posts:

Here is a detail of one of my drawings, showing Is'a'pai'a
 carrying ta'ta'wa'tze| on its back across the river.
Believe it or not, I couldn't find a really appropriate
 classical picture showing either the crossing of the river
 or the first meeting of Jason with Pelias.
       Hercules was an Argonaut -- a member of Jason's crew on the ship Argo who shared in all the fantastic adventures of this crew of doughty Champions. Hercules was not a major participant and he left the Quest before it was finished, but since it was important in his life, I had to take it into consideration as part of my series The Labors of Ki'shto'ba Huge-Head.
       Those of you who are reading the series may have guessed that Is'a'pai'a, the young outcast Tramontane Warrior, is the stand-in for Jason. The early part of Jason's life forms a fascinating story of its own.
       (Parenthetically, the name "Jason" means "Healer," and so I called my character "Is'a'pai'a," which in the Shshi language means "Healing Warrior.")
       When you read The Wood Where the Two Moons Shine, you should see many parallels with the early life of of Jason.  It's a little complicated in its relationships, so I'm going to quote directly from Robert Graves' Greek Myths (section 148, "The Argonauts Assemble"):

       "After the death of King Cretheus the Aeolian, Pelias, son of Poseidon, already an old man, seized the Iolcan throne from his half-brother Aeson, the rightful heir.  An oracle presently warning him that he would be killed by a descendant of Aeolus, Pelias put to death every prominent Aeolian he dared to lay hands upon, except Aeson, whom he spared for his mother Tyro's sake, but kept a prisoner in the palace, forcing him to renounce his inheritance."
       In my rendition, Pelias is Wei'thel'a'han, believed to be an offspring of the Highest Mother's Sea King.  He is a tyrant from across the sea who invaded and seized the fortress of Hwai'ran'chet (Iolcus), only to find that the current Mother's primary King happens to be Wei'thel'a'han's sibling, both hailing from the fortress of Fet'ro'chet.  At that point the Seer/Sorcerer No'tuk'a'nei (who has no direct equivalent in this part of the myths, except as the oracle who predicted the death of Pelias) foretells that a scion of the fortress Fet'ro'chet would cause Wei'thel'a'han's death.  So Wei'thel'a'han, who is desperately afraid of death, commits a great atrocity, slaughtering every individual, nymph, and egg in Hwai'ran'chet who was laid after the coming of Fet'ro'hma'no'tze, the King in question.  However, Wei'thel'a'han is quite superstitious and fears to kill  its own sibling, so Fet'ro'hma'no'tze is simply removed from the presence of the Mother and imprisoned.
       Can you see the parallels?  Fet'ro'chet the King represents Aeson.

       Graves continues, "Now, Aeson had married Polymele [equivalent to the Mother Ti'gan'ta'zei in Hwai'ran'chet] ... and bore him one son.  ...  Pelias would have destroyed the child without mercy, had not Polymele summoned her kinswomen to weep over him, as though he were still-born, and then smuggled him out of the city to Mount Pelion; where Cheiron the Centaur reared him, as he did ... with ... Achilles ... and other famous heroes."
       In my rendition, the fortress's former Seer smuggles out one small, shriveled egg after telling everyone that it surely was infertile and offering to take it to the Charnel herself.  Instead, she takes it into the Spirit Hills, to Zan'tet, the principal fortress of the Yo'sho'zei (equivalent to the Centaurs), where Vai'zei'a'parn the Leader of the Yo'sho'zei, cares for it.  Ultimately, it hatches into a little nymph whom Seers name Is'a'pai'a.  These same Seers then caution Vai'zei'a'parn that when Is'a'pai'a passes its fourth molt, it must be sent away to seek a great northern hero who would teach it how to be a true Champion.  (I think I just invented this last part, but it certainly makes sense.  Nobody would want Wei'thel'a'han to learn of the existence of Is'a'pai'a before it matured, and this was a way to get Ki'shto'ba into the story.)

       Now, a second oracle warned Pelias to beware a one-sandalled man, and one day on the seashore he encounters exactly that.  Graves writes, "The other sandal he had lost in the muddy river Anaurus ... by the connivance of a crone who, standing on the farther bank, begged passersby to carry her across.  None took pity on her, until this young stranger courteously offered her his broad back; but he found himself staggering under the weight, since she was none other than the goddess Hera in disguise.  For Pelias had vexed Hera, by withholding her customary sacrifice, and she was determined to punish him for this neglect."
       Therefore, when Pelias asks for the name and lineage of this stranger, Jason blurts out the truth.  "Pelias glared at him balefully.  'What would you do,' he inquired suddenly, 'if an oracle announced that one of your fellow citizens were destined to kill you?'
       "'I would send him to fetch the golden ram's fleece from Colchis,' Jason replied, not knowing that Hera had placed those words in his mouth." 
       Of course, this is exactly what is destined to happen, and so the Quest for the Golden Fleece was launched.  The problem is, how does one adapt all that to the termite culture?  Termites don't wear sandals, after all.  And how can Is'a'pai'a carry the Mother Goddess on its back?  But it makes very good sense that the same vengeful Highest-Mother-Who-Has-No-Name who engineered the downfall of Thel'or'ei for violating the prime directive of the Shshi worship system: thou shalt not harm the progenitors who give you life! -- that this same goddess would be enraged at Wei'thel'a'han for its own violent treatment of the life force. 
       Anyway, I'm not going to tell you how I did it!  In the picture above I purposely blocked out the lower part of Is'a'pai'a's six legs!  It's a pivotal event in the latest volume to be published, The Wood Where the Two Moon Shines, and if you want to know, you'll just have to read the book, or preferably the whole series, first!  


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