Know thyself, and you will know why shadows
Are making love on empty walls,
And you will understand why summer
It’s always under autumn’s thrall.
Know thyself, and you will understand forever
Why footsteps haunt you in the dark
Why tears flow on mystic faces
And why Noah strived to build an ark.
Know thyself, and you will know the world
The nothingness from which was born
The silence in the land of Eleusis
While harvesting the ear of the corn.
Reference to the Eleusinian Mysteries of ancient Greece, which included the ritual of “an ear of corn cut in silence.” It is believed that this ritual symbolized the birth of a new life.
I am driving from Athens to Patras on E-94. On my left steep mountains, made out of white rock, sparsely covered by shrubs. On my right the Gulf of Corinth adorned by the early, dazzling morning light. Its waters are calm, dreamy, soothed in an ineffable silence: the silence that reigned before the beginning of the world. The views are savagely beautiful: mountains and waters coming together, eternally caught in a hushed battle, a battle born from the abyss of the old Greek myths. There is only one car behind me. I slow down. The car drives past me. Intoxicated by the beauty that surrounds me I close my eyes. In a moment I am overwhelmed by the premonition of a sudden event. Chills are running through my body, icing my every fiber, cooling my heated soul, slowing the flow of my blood. I open my eyes. And then it happens.
I start breathing in an unfamiliar rhythm. The sun metamorphoses into a golden liquid: hundreds of glittering rivers are inundating the blue of the sky. The water starts murmuring. The pendulum of the earth goes astray. The North Pole disappears. The icy castle of wisdom and thought melts before my eyes. The earth becomes just a heated platter, carried, together with the sky, on the shoulder of the mythological Atlas.
A nude nymph appears from the water, beautiful, wild. Her black hair is tightly braided, her skin is white like milk. She runs in the middle of the road. Bewildered I press the brake. She looks toward me, laughs, and rapidly starts claiming the mountain on my left. The shrubs are scratching her skin. She doesn’t stop. Who is she running from? In a flash I see him. An ephebus follows her, his body tense, his passionate eyes wide open, his feet crushing the heated mountain rocks. After a few seconds they disappear in the dark shrubs, leaving behind the distant echo of a primordial ecstasy.
My arms ache. I take my foot from the break. I can breathe normally now. It’s over. I slowly pull the car on the right of the road, and stop again. Out of nowhere, I feel his hand touching mine. I turn my head. Jacques is sitting by me, his cold blue eyes piercing into mine. Why is he here? I left him behind in Athens. I left him with Miriam and Angelo! I stare at him, and suddenly I can hear the nymph’s laughter. Oh No! Not again!