Excerpts from the Revised Novel, III

Now, when the Gorgon Medousa, the Dread and Awful, cried out over her fallen comrades that day, the Gods, watching from Mount Ida heard and were startled and almost in fear until they saw who it was that shook the plain of Ilion. Poseidon laughed. “Look who it is, giving herself airs!” he remarked.

Athena’s grey eyes darkened with malevolent brilliance. “Her? How dare she-?” And she took up her spear, and her shield, the Aegis, and prepared to descend to the plain and strike her down.

But Ares of the Glittering Helm stood up against her. “Put up your spear; it is my daughter and her comrades in arms that she honors. And the Amazons themselves have ever been faithful to us. Let her mourn them and perform the rites for them; for our children at least are worthy, even if this one has earned your enmity.”

But Grey-Eyed Athena answered him roughly, saying “You cannot threaten me, nor stand against me, though you be God of War. That one was once my priestess, and she defiled my temple and herself; and now she causes us affright, like mortal children? She has not submitted to her punishment, but has somehow thwarted my curse, and now consorts with mortals as friends. I will surely strike her down for her impious presumption!”

And laughter-loving Aphrodite stood by Ares and replied, “For love’s sake, she was brought low by you and Poseidon. And now for love’s sake, she would mourn her friends and do them honor. And what Ares says is right- The Amazons have ever honored both you and him. To strike her down here, at this time, is not right.”

But Athena drew herself up and railed on them both. “Do not interfere with me or mine! I will deal with my own priestesses as I see fit! I am foremost of Father Zeus’ children, and you two have already gotten wounds of me by the hand of my faithful servant Diomedes! Stand aside and do not think to hinder me!”

At this, Ares and Aphrodite were ashamed, and they appealed to Zeus. And Zeus was watching his children, and listening to them with amusement with his brother, the Earth Shaker of Wide Strength, who had told his lordly brother of the sweetness of the morsel he had tasted.

“But what is this all about? What is the cause of this discord?” Zeus asked. And Poseidon smiled, and settled in next to his brother.

“She is quite vexed, isn’t she?” he laughed.

“But why?”

“You see, my Brother, many years ago, this one defiled your daughter’s temple in Athens. The poor girl tasted Love, and for that, Athena condemned her.”

“How sad! How tragic!” the Storm-Gatherer exclaimed. “And yet, she does have the right to govern her own cult….”

“Oh, but you know the nature and beauty of the daughters of men,” Poseidon whispered into his brother’s ear. “And she once excelled them all! How can you condemn the poor thing?”

“Indeed,” Zeus replied, casting a surreptitious glance at his wife, Hera.

“Furthermore,” Poseidon continued, “How could Athena possibly strike her former priestess down now? Especially when she honors Athena’s own children, the Amazons?”

Athena was momentarily unable to speak for shock and outrage at Poseidon’s meddling.

“Ares and Aphrodite are right,” the Lord of the Sea continued. “Must the little priestess be slain after displaying such Xenia toward the servants of her former Mistress?”

And Zeus of the Councils considered Poseidon’s words, and took the side of Ares and Aphrodite. “It is Xenia,” the King of the Gods declared. Turning to Athena, he charged her, “Leave her alone for now, my daughter; for what she does is fitting and proper, and she honors the heroines of the people who honor you. I say to you, stay your hand for the moment.”

Athena put up her spear, but declared before all the company of Olympus, “Medousa’s head will adorn my shield before the allotted span of her mortal life is done.” And she swore a dreadful oath. But none that day moved against Medousa, nor raised their hand upon her, for the sake of Zeus’ judgment.


Medousa walked along a deserted stretch of road in the wilderness. She was quiet and pensive. She paused during the heat of the day to find shade and grazing for the horses by the side of the road. As luck would have it, there was also a stream not too far off the highway where she could even water the horses. As Medousa tended them, she noticed them snorting the air, as if sensing something or someone. Alarmed, she looked around, scanning with the eyes of her serpents as well as her own. But she saw nothing.

And then, suddenly, Medousa heard a familiar, booming laugh.

“Ha, ha! A magnificent performance, Little Priestess! Such valor! Such nobility!”

YOU!” Medousa staggered back, frightened.

“Surprised to see me, my sweet pear?”

“How are you here? Why have you–”

“’Why?’ Why to see you, of course!” Poseidon looked her over, making Medousa shiver with revulsion. “You were prettier before my Niece elevated you.” He leaned in and leered at her. “I’ll still fuck you, if you like,” he offered. “For old time’s sake.”

“Oh? And are you going to try to slake your lust upon me, again?” Medousa should have been afraid. But her power as a Gorgon, and the knowledge that her sisters and their friends were watching out for her, gave her courage. “I am not quite so helpless as I once was.”

Medousa’s voice dripped with the hissing of her serpents, a deep growl bubbling up in her throat. Anyone but a God would have fled in terror at the sound. But Poseidon laughed.

“Magnificent! Magnificent!” he praised. “Oh, but you play your part well! Such Hubris, to think you could threaten a God!”

Hubris!” Medousa spat. “You accuse me?

Poseidon sat down against a tree and leaned back, smiling as Medousa berated him.

“You shamed me! You, a God, and I, a mere mortal girl! You disgraced and dishonoured me! Not because anything had happened to you! You simply took me for your own gratification! You didn’t love me! You didn’t even try to woo me! What had I ever done? What could I have ever done to a God? If there is Hubris here, it is yours!

“Oh, indeed?” Poseidon rumbled, still smiling, but a dangerous glint in his eye.

He stood, and Medousa suddenly felt cold in the pit of her stomach.

“Hubris consists in doing and saying things that cause shame to the victim, simply for the pleasure of it–”

“Oh, and you took no pleasure in my flesh, I suppose?”

Poseidon continued, ignoring Medousa’s interruption. “But retaliation is not Hubris. It is vengeance.”

Poseidon approached, and Medousa took a defensive posture. The God continued.

“Mortals indulge in such crimes as rape and assault in order to make themselves feel superior. They believe they are superior, and so will escape punishment.”

“Retaliation for what?” Medousa cried. I never did anything against you! I–”

Poseidon laughed derisively, cutting her off.

You? You think very highly of yourself, don’t you, little Gorgon! Why would you think yourself worthy of a God’s vengeance?”

“But… But…. Then, who…?”

“I have a quarrel with Athena, my sweet pear. Not you. You were merely incidental to my purpose.”

Medousa was horrified, speechless.

“–As delicious a morsel as you were, my dear,” Poseidon taunted.

“You took no pleasure in my flesh?” Medousa asked sarcastically when she found her voice.

Poseidon sidestepped the question.

“You were dishonoured. But you failed to cleanse yourself as your Goddess commanded. You instead wallowed in fear and self-pity. You have developed a sense of Hubris, ascribing to the Gods your own sin. You have never been penitent, but your associates have only lifted up your heart in pride.”

Poseidon approached Medousa until he stood face to face with her.

“Tell me again, mortal,” he growled. “Would you ascribe Hubris to me? To Athena? You were a pawn between us; yet you think yourself a queen.”

Medousa trembled, her limbs suddenly as weak as straw.

Poseidon turned, as if to leave. But before he left, he called over his shoulder to Medousa.

“If it means anything to you– you were a damned good fuck, and I thoroughly enjoyed your flesh. I’m only sorry there hadn’t been more time.”

Poseidon laughed again, and was suddenly gone.

Medousa knelt down slowly in the dust of the road by the cart, considering Poseidon’s words, her heart suddenly empty.

 

Athena came upon Poseidon as he returned to Mount Ida to see the end of the war.

Poseidon,” Athena bellowed. In a flash, the point of her spear was at the Earth-Shaker’s throat.

Poseidon knocked away the weapon, laughing scornfully.

“Hah! A wonderful display, my dear Niece!”

“How dare you humiliate me like that in front of the others!”

“How easily you do lose your temper, Dear Niece!”

“I have every right to be angry! You–”

“Admit it,” Poseidon interrupted. “You’ve lost.”

Athena was momentarily shaken. “’Lost?’ Lost what?”

“Your little priestess. Medousa. She hardly seems devoted to you now, does she?”

“No-!”

“You’ve lost her, Athena.”

“I will not accept–”

“You have already cursed and rejected her. Medousa is lost to you. You’ve even promised to slay her before her time. I’ve beaten you.”

Athena’s shoulders drooped. Her eyes were cast downward. Poseidon had indeed taught her a lesson. But she would still set things right. She would eliminate the source of her humiliation and defeat. And she would see to it that she herself, not Poseidon, would be vindicated by history.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a faceless drone in a corporate call center, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in my dead grandparents’ house, alone, with an impressive collection of martial arts weapons, where I practice and train daily. I am not currently on any medications.
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