Act 1. Showbiz & Conveyor-Belt Facts
Scene 1. A dark cave lighted by a flickering torch.
Enter: Vulcan dragging along his huge shadow.
A fool indeed, am I!
Perceived through the silver coated mirror of my bride
Where is the Unfaithful, the Promiscuous?
Embracing Mars or is it Apollo, Dionysus, Adonis or for that matter Gregory Peck, Humphrey Bogart, Dilip Kumar, Richard Burton, Heinz Ruhmann, Marcello Mastroianni, Omar Shariff, Bruce Lee or Bryan Ferry for a change?
And look at the new issue of this glossy German magazine!
What in name of cursed Styx
Is she doing in front of my child Mercedes?
Showing off her symmetry and curves and her lustrous fruits
Stealing my show!
Now indeed Jove gave her to me. But she hates this cave. Now what did she expect?
Workplaces always resemble caves, but then that is where you get your divine sofa made, don't you? And she gets paid for that and far more than I, who made that sleek power cheetah. Just standing and glibly smiling at the fools. No, she can't fool me, by the disbelief-suppressing bizarre patents of Marshall McLuhan! Was it not I, who for years bore her tantrums, her abuses and shared her utterly morbid loneliness? And her happy moments she presented to Mars, with a vampy grin! Impressed with power! Eh, what a joke. Mars I had in my net, like a fish. Blushing like a juvenile, was he! Ja , he was! The adulterer! Helpless, but for Jove's interception! Now she seems to have enough of him, or is it because he is eying her son's new bride, Psyche? Serves her well, I say. No, no, she may have had enough of all these males, after messing around the metropolis and getting laid by those beady eyed scavenging moles, with their blood instantly gushing into their groins as soon as they see a bit of a naked skin. Heard, she has been reading Sappho and hunting with Diana! Now whatever they do beside hunting, should be none of my business, but then we are married, I have to know it! By Jove I have to! I must! I can't bear it!
Mercury! Oh, Hermes old fella, where are you, help me!
Appears: Mercury (as a bolt from blue, shedding light in the darkness and dwarfing Vulcan's huge shadow)
What is ailing you, my friend? Venus again? Old boy can't you get over it? Look she is growing increasingly disinterested in Mars and the rest of 'em or rather getting warmer toward her own sex.Vulcan
You know well, how much Diana would like her to live with her troop, far away from you and other men? Is it really so hard?Vulcan
Bitter the fruits of my endeavor.Mercury
All is well, that ends well…Vulcan
You know chum, why I like you? Although you openly declare your allegiance to the Olympian Establishment and Jove's Universe, you would never betray me, if I spoke to about my deepest heartfelt thoughts, nor would you suggest I should see a shrink or Ascelpios for that matter! You know I am sane, and my anger is justified! I do feel sometimes like blowing off the Olympia! And may even Jove hear about it…A Thundering Voice
If anybody could, then it would be Vulcan, the master of Technology? But son, did I not give to you the most beautiful gift of all Olympia? To none but you! Is this how you repay me? The fates had decreed it otherwise. I see it has brought upon you no happiness. Your anger and what you say, heresy and blasphemy for some, but Jove forgives you!Vulcan
Jove, Master of the Universe, like a powerless human slave I have degraded myself to seek justice for injustice done to me at your door. Indeed having first miserably failed by taking revenge all alone by myself through trapping the two adulterers and exposing them to all and for which you reprimanded me, I have sought help everywhere I could. Help to redress the injustice done both to my honor and my soul. I admit my revenge was mean, not befitting a god, but where do I seek justice now? In the airy mansions of the powerless divinities of the pantheon? Though I must thank you for forgiving me Jove, it more than anything else so far seems to work wonders in me!Mercury
Now you may understand the reasons for my faithfullness to Jove! Maybe you too could forgive Aphrodite!Vulcan
Bless my soul, eh I never thought about that. That helps, by the forgiving eyes of Jesus!Mercury
What is more, you save your hard earned dollars, you don't need a shrink or some costly drink!
Exit: Mercury and Vulcan
Enter: Aphrodite spraying scent with a twig, occasionally dipping it into a small amphora that Calliope is holding. Calliope is trailing behind and watching carefully her steps.
Now, did you smell that? It is always like that, and it is getting worse! In the beginning this cave smelled of oil, wax, honey, olives and some tolerable organic materials. Now it is mostly chemicals and chemicals; and mind you, some of them very harmful. Every time I come here, I bring with me an amphora full of essence. I have almost finished all the ones I had got from the Pharaoh Tutankhamen and almost half of the ones I received from Emperors Ming and Akbar and those really exotic ones from Harun-el-Raschid. And should I tell you the truth?Calliope
This is not my home. I never felt at home here and you may not believe me but ...??Calliope
You seem to hesitate, you know you don't have to tell me, if you don't like to...Aphrodite
But of course I do. I never told it to any one besides Mars...Calliope
I would certainly like to know it, but you should not feel obliged. I am here only to give you company and not to poke my nose into your affairs, unless you want to share your thoughts and memories with me, which I would no doubt consider an honor and worth appreciating.Aphrodite
Of course I do, Calliope! I certainly don't have to hide anything from the Muses, except may be from Thalia and Euterpe.Calliope
Well she is doubtlessly trustworthy, but sometimes just too spontaneous and always blurting out things without premeditating about their relevance or consequences, without meaning to do harm to anybody though. She just can't keep any secrets, even when you tell her to. She will inadvertently blurt them out, and most often at the most significant places!Calliope
So let me tell it to you. As I came here the first time, thrilled and unhappy at the same time, cursing the Fates, for having chosen a reclusive and limping god to be my consort but also thrilled at the newness of it all and the change that it could mean for me, after having been a single all my life. Of course I was not expecting the throne of Amphitrite, that does not appeal to me anyway, but a humble subterranean abode. Nevertheless I was shocked. No, not at the scarcity of the furniture, the sterile functionality of all the rooms or grotto here, including the kitchen, but the essence of this place, that seemed to scream at me from every nook and corner here.Calliope
Makes me shudder at the thought of having to call something like this home!Aphrodite
It seemed as if Apollo never really visited this accursed hole, but peeped teasingly only through crevices and cracks, perhaps having a laugh at its occupants!Calliope
But he nevertheless seems to be a great friend of Vulcan, wasn't it Apollo, who betrayed you and Mars to him?Aphrodite
Friend indeed! He was just jealous of Mars, I guess!Calliope
What, the great Apollo? I never heard any one speak of him like that! You are not going to tell me that he... I am sorry, I seem to have got carried away, I don't want to hear anything I am beginning to .. no..this can't be true..Aphrodite
Males are all same. but that is another story. Don't ever believe everything the gods say..Calliope
Of course it is an open secret at the Olympia that Apollo tried to win your favors, but Apollo being jealous? Or that he made any inappropriate advances toward you? Unrequited desires? A rejected Cupid? Of course gods will talk, and at Olympia things are changing, it is more and more resembling the earth at present, where journalists write about the b-jobs, that you presumably once indulged in while on duty or having to go to the bathroom. Things are no more private or better said, everything one does can be a subject of a story, that always finds avid readers, who seem to have either too little meaning in their own lives or attach subtle meanings to the doings of those, who they themselves have placed on great pedestals.Aphrodite
I am not claiming anything Calliope nor accusing anyone. I may however admit that Apollo disappointed me, by shinning his great light on us for all to see. But I am in no position to actually judge his actions or fully explain his reasons for this rather disappointing deed. As far his attempted advances are concerned, well I am not going to divulge them now, but may be at another time.Calliope
Hmmm! Apollo Jealous? Devising, like any ordinary god or mortal? I seem to be just a bit confused. I am sorry, I guess sometimes I am just too naive, it can't be helped! Outright stupid!Aphrodite
Jealous? Now, why in the name of dark Styx, should he be free of something that the gods are amply blessed with, bus loads of Mandelbrot Karma, that the Fates weave equally for all, in and outside the heavens? Some claim he was even jealous of his sister Diana, the poor girl. It sure was he, who teasingly dared her shoot a black floating gizmo far away in the ocean, that Diana could barely have seen but Apollo, I assume would have recognized with closed eyes. She felt challenged! Diana the Huntress, widely acclaimed for her sharp-shooting prowess, promptly let loose her arrow. Poor Orion, that was Orion to be sure, he was, by the blinded eyes of Oedipus and the light of Apollo, it was him! The cute and gentle Orion! He fell like a dead duck and was washed on to the shore. Poor Diana, she was planning to marry him, probably the only male in the universe, to whom she was attached so much. You can guess her horror at seeing him washed dead onto the beach. After bewailing him for months, she finally placed him and his dog Sirius in the heavens, wherefrom he sheds his haunting light on her glen. Apollo, is certainly not much different from us, jealous of every potential rival to the affections, sometimes well nigh unconditional, that the mortals and the gods bestow upon him! Diana has not forgotten it, and I well believe, it was this thought that made her gather her wits as we three were once together, and Apollo momentarily had her fully under his ravishing spell.Calliope
I thought they were true siblings!Aphrodite
Well so is Hera and Jove! This is nothing unusual at Olympia!Calliope
No wonder that the Muslims and Christians, call us heathens! Equally understandable that monotheism possesses an evolutionary advantage, as far as this aspect is concerned.Aphrodite
Yes indeed, but we call them primitive too, albeit for other reasons. Hera is actually also the mother of Jove, if you ask me. She almost nursed him, when he was no more than a toddler. And see how they repay you later for bringing up these small kids, with love and care!Calliope
But Calliope, you can rest assured that your Mentor Apollo is in a way free from the usual blemishes, that characterize many gods of the pantheon. May be my own jealousy made me claim just before, that he had been jealous. I must admit, I have a lot problems here too!
You jealous of Apollo?Aphrodite
I may be mad, but he was watching Diana with a strange look in his eyes and seemed to be totally unaware of my presence. I felt absolutely overlooked and even unwanted...but not from Diana, mind you..Calliope
Of course not, Diana has no eyes for males?Aphrodite
Well you may think so, it is not always like that. There was a just a strange look in her eyes, that clearly indicated to me, that she wished me away, but just for a fleeting second, she soon recovered from the spell. I know it...Apollo has that. You know I love and cherish him as so many of us do. And being confined here, you can guess how I missed him, a deep felt desire for his light would engulf me at times, a desire no Mars can fulfill... I know it. No! Certainly not, but to return to my story...where was I Calliope?Calliope
You were talking about the darkness here and your longing for Apollo's light...Aphrodite
Of course I was. I longed to go out into the sun. Stretch my body, feel Apollo’s warmness at a distance, and the further away he was, the more the longing. Yes bask in his glance. These stinking torches here, they just give me the headaches and make me feel depressed. And you know, this fool of my husband, what wierd idea he got?Calliope
Can't imagine anything.Aphrodite
You know he wanted to mix some ultra-violet light, that he got in exchange for some gadget he made for Apollo, with the stinking oil he uses in his primitive torches, that he is so loath to replace with anything modern. He thought this would help my depression! Fool! It is not just that hormones-effecting ultra-violet light that I need, it is all that and more. The green of the meadows, that Diana seems to enjoy without bounds, the simple songs of the birds, the croaking of the frogs, the waking and sleeping and reawakening of life around and not only of gods, men and machines and their horrible monotonous and homogeneous light, that never changes and has no effect on anything except to make you hammer on and on and on your anvil. A hybris against Apollo, whose glance, even when obstructed by thick clouds can dispel all of the shine put together from these tiny toys. Yes I longed for Apollo's shine and its complex interrelatedness with everything living and singing, including the singing of Pan and Bacchus or the songs of now what was his name?Calliope
Have no clue to whom you might be referring...Aphrodite
Of course you don't, you were not born then, as someone told me about ...forgot about it. Never mind, the ultra-violet light was a joke! He has often such ideas. Queer ones, I must say. Queer ideas indeed, which may sell, sometimes at very high prices, I tell you! Though two of most weird ones did not, thanks to Asclepios. They were completely mad..Calliope
You raise my curiosity..Aphrodite
One was indeed dangerous for all Olympia. Asclepios at once gauged its implications, although Vulcan, I must admit had not thought about that. Well you see he generally expects others to do thinking part about the consequences of his inventions for the mankind, he will generally make anything that is viably capable of being made. He suggested that mankind could go on using Fluorocarbons, that deplete the protective ozone layer and which protects both Mount Olympia and all of life on Earth. Yes instead he boldly declared, he had found a way, to shoot pellets of ozone from planes flying at high altitudes! The idiot, just because somebody from Earth had requested him for that, probably some one who was making money selling that stuff. He never questions the intentions of his customers. He is just happy having a job at hand, that would give him an excuse not to involve himself, with me, the kids, who he has not seen since ages, with the kitchen or the guest room here or other important things. I am supposed to do that, or others at Olympia. Not he!Calliope
And the other?Aphrodite
Less dangerous may be, considering the alternatives available at present, but certainly very controversial. He had submitted a model for nuclear waste disposal. He believed mankind could dump it all in the Marianna Vent !Calliope
Strange, coming from a god, who should be capable of thinking about long term consequences!Aphrodite
No, like I told you he leaves that for others. That is not his job. I surely wanted him to get involved once. But now I don't care. Anyway the worst is to come..I never felt that this place could ever become my home, no matter how hard I would try. How could I? Everywhere it is Vulcan, his factories and his laboratories, the smell of chemicals, the sterile atmosphere of his labs, the business-like stiff demeanor of his outright boring visitors, who put everything on a scale before uttering a word, whose behavior is as much dictated by sterile suits they wear and the marshal discipline at the base and sexual obsessions, perversions and confusion and arbitrariness and opportunistic horse-trading at top, and I can assure you, hardly anyone of them is immune to my power. If he is, then it is probably a obsessive character, and they are almost all males.Calliope
You could invite here your friends though?Aphrodite
What? Of all the places, to this hell? Here? Where everybody is like a rabbit on the run? Their work hour schedules, their time-stamps, their hierarchy and obsession with signatures, because they never trust each other and all that big-brother monitoring! And which fool would like to come here freely?Calliope
Too true, this certainly is not a place, where one would like to come freely for pleasure or uninvited except for business may be! I feel sorry for you Aphrodite, and I begin to well understand your behavior of the past, much criticized by some, including Hera, who was always ashamed of her son and hates him like hell.Aphrodite
Oh! Accursed Neptune? He is to be blamed for my woes?Calliope
Of course. Trust my husband, this tricky master of ruse and deception to contrive the most formidable tech-appliances, that can make even the mightiest gods in Olympia shiver in fear! He could make even the river Xanthos burn with a scorching flame, killing the fish in boiling water and the life on scorched land. He can be merciless and his vengeance knows no bounds! He devised a chair for his own mother, which made her hang in the air, locked into some of kind of a gravity-less dimension, unable to move or free herself and nobody could help her; even Jove was helpless to free her from this demeaning situation. And when requested to help his mother, he brazenly claimed he had none.Calliope
Understandable, perhaps from the sense of rejection that his mother Hera, implanted in his soul as an infant! Although it sure gives me the creeps, to see how he can deploy his great creative gifts for such base purposes. But tell me how did Hera manage to free herself?Aphrodite
It was at the request of his father Dionysus, who dragged Vulcan fully tipsy to Olympia and forced him to entangle his mother, not without Vulcan extracting a promise from the Olympians to fulfill any single wish, that he may have.Calliope
And that was you, I gather?Aphrodite
No, I am sure it would have been Athena, who suits his war-mongering nature, albeit without the perverted sadistic impulses, more than I do. But Neptune hated Athena, he probably did not want these two to enter into an alliance, that could potentially lead to an emergence of a formidable enemy camp. It was he, who persuaded the fool to ask the Olympians for my hand.Calliope
So Neptune? And Vulcan got you through a ruse! And that is certainly something which, according to the general view of us all Muses, can mean nothing good in the long run. No wander it has lead to so much tragedy in your lives.Aphrodite
And sometimes I still fear his vengeance. After all the gods laughed at him, when he ensnared and exposed Mars and me, embraced in intimacy for all the world to see, but they only laughed at the fool! Yes they did! And how! I believe, it was Mercury, who exclaimed, he would gladly exchange the place with Mars and share latter’s pleasure even at the risk of incurring a still more severe punishment, than this childish and shameless Outing that Apollo and Vulcan had so glibly devised, Vulcan’s high-tech nanothread contrivances withstanding! And Jove’s offer of an substitute, did not work either. Athena just despises him, especially after this event. Who, except me, would like to share his bed, let alone even try to be good wife, as I did at first, to this undeserving wretch!Calliope
Certainly not I and probably none of us, except maybe Thalia and Euterpe, who will accept anything at its face value!Aphrodite
You see? And this should not make you wonder, when I tell you, that right from my first nuptial deflowering, as Clio would say, when I felt almost overtaken despite his gentleness, I have never ever taken off my sandals! Nor let him, when making love, even at the moments of great ecstasy, which I did indeed experience with him for a year or so, at the beginning. I always have had this feeling, this is a temporary abode, this can't be the ultimate in homely heaven for me! I feel like a vagabond, a hobo, homeless, anything but not committed to this place. I sleep here with my sandals on! At one time, like a fool I thought, may be this is temporary, he will change, we will change but no, this place is getting more and more alienated from real normal life. Oh, how I cherish the life of Diana! Or even of those, whose life and work are perfect harmony and not dictated by time-stamps!Calliope
Wait a minute. Let me lay this Amphora down first. Now where is your gorgeous cute little mirror? Oh, yes here...now look at yourself Venus! Of course to everyone out there, including Praxiteles, you look always the same, as an epitome of un-aging eternal youth and beauty, but look carefully and tell me is that what you see here?Aphrodite
No Calliope, it is stranger looking at me. It is not me. And what I see in the look of the eyes, reflecting back is the fact, that I have aged. I have grown old, if some one really cared to look...Now who is that outside?Calliope
Someone from the film productions. Says that their heroine, who plays Venus has got pregnant, meaning got involved in drugs and they are planning to give this role to a colored beauty presently the new craze of the media, and if it is alright.Aphrodite
Uh! Sorry Calliope, I forgot that you could talk to humans at a distance and even read their thoughts, so this guy knows the truth, he must probably be the director or producer... Tell him it is alright with me. I don't care about these things. Never did really, whatever they may say. Nefertiti, was my favorite and she was eh! colored or whatever!Calliope
He says thanks. He was the director and actually a very conscientious one at that. I could see the trouble he had lying to the gods, but he resolved the conflict very amiably for himself!Aphrodite
Well he thought you would probably know the reason anyway and certainly understand and forgive. But assuming you did not come to know it through divine intuition, he felt justified to tell a lie, because he was genuinly interested in protecting the reputation and privacy of another person.Aphrodite
Yes nice of him, coming so far to tell me something, he assumed I already knew and to value my judgment, even when I assume, he is not expecting bad consequences if he disobeyed my wishes, for he seems to me to be too enlightened person, to do things merely for sake of mere convention and for keeping up the appearances.Calliope
Indeed he is...Nice chap! But never mind, he interrupted us, although thankfully not for some stupid advertisement, most of the times totally out of place ....... you wanted to tell me more?Aphrodite
Yes to continue, Jove knows that I tried. Tried hard to accept my fate, to love Vulcan and only him. I even defended him against Hera, who got angry. I did not care. He meant so much to me then. Yes after few years I thought I might be able to live like that and may be one day start making a home out of this mess. Yes, may be one day just remove my sandals. Yes he was different then. He cared and was less obsessed with his work and even willing to learn other things, like listening to poetry and the birds or going out on walks and mountain-climbing, swimming in pristine seas with my children, the graces. But now the demand for his endless work here has grown at an exponential rate and he is always in stress and never relaxed. I simply don't have the power I once had over him, to make him forget everything except me, even if only for one day! Those times have disappeared, my presence here sometimes goes fully unnoticed in this work-obsessed hell. And paradoxically, I know, that everything that these work-obsessed Tolkien-Dwarfs produce is not a cent more worthy than a mere reproduction of mine. I repeat, just a photo-reproduction of mine, bereft of life, which is just really nothing! He even said to me once, that I was stealing his show, when they put a picture of me, seductively clothed with the test pilot PM barely recognizable in the background, cruising in the Raptor F/A-22! Of course I had not asked anybody to put me in there, it was their idea. And worse in the next one, I was sitting in the pilots seat, dodging the imaginary gods and demons and real radars, with my breast shinning subtly and teasingly through a specially designed gravity suit! And this raptor was also his creation. He got mad, as they paid me ten times the sum, that one such plane costs. And it took one thousand of his workers and about two million lines of computer code to produce a single one in a month! And I stole his show! He gets mad, at not understanding how this world really functions! He know how machines function, but not a bit about the humans! I got paid more than he for all of his work, by just appearing on prime-time TV commercial spot worth millions. But he knows that with my assistance, he can access his potential targets, those who may pay for his creations, so that he can continue making more of them, at the speed equal to that of Apollo's glance. Without me, his achievements would wallow in an almost overlooked column in a regional daily, commemorating the first flight of the Wright Brothers. No prime time!
Yes I tried, to love him despite all of his shortcomings, his limp and no less his genius and his moodiness. I liked him most at moments, like the ones at dinner, where he would snatch like a child, my food away from my dish, teasing me, moments, when he felt perfectly at ease with me, when we did not notice anything else than just each other, wondering at our existences, blissfully aware of the fact, how imperative and wonderful the existence of another being can be, for one's own innate essence! But now it is only stress! He eats no more, he gulps.
And yes it had to come. The inevitable. Yes Mars! Mars? Now that thought or the god would have never crossed my mind, even in a dream as my choice for a lover. Never! But I must admit, he was the most dedicated wooer in all of Olympia, that I ever had. I had brushed him away a couple of times. he never gave up. Apollo would have never shown his face again, if I had treated him like I did Mars at first. But he was true and quite open about his feelings for me. And then of course, I felt sorry for having put him off. Then one evening, as Apollo took his leave and the other gods left soon after that, it just happened that suddenly Athena had to leave, after we two and Mars had been for hours deeply engrossed in a discussion about war. She left without warning, to stand by Odysseus at Troy, I guess. We were left alone unexpectedly. It was then, that he gently caressed with his warm hand that of mine, having I believe noticed my reluctance to head for this dungeon here, and suddenly I felt something, I believed was lost for ever and what I had felt for Vulcan once. I always thought, it was something that others experienced and talked about, but nothing for me anymore. His touch was a reminder that this feeling was not completely dead. It was too alive. And soon it had me in its grips, it engulfed me. His touch burned me to core, and soon we were in each others arms, the night was hot. I could not have enough. I laughed, cried, groaned, suppressed all thoughts of Vulcan, fully absorbed in the present and turned demanding, uninhibited into an fully active partner. And Mars, oh gracious, was he happy just to oblige! All that fancy could ever dream about, Kama- Sutra and the passion and ecstasy. The next day however I regretted it, wept, since Vulcan was still innocently unaware of it and never suspected me. He still could have regained my love in a way, but then Apollo told it to him and the mean revenge he devised, well I know now, that we two will never meet. We are strangers. And yes, I am thinking about Diana. Calliope it is smelling chemistry again, let us spray some scent...