Chapter 6:

Human plans. Τhe sly one!

A New Olympian God

AthensBookmark here

Everyone has had fun drinking in the tavern. The wine was plenty, and the atmosphere was great. The crowd was celebrating Zeus’s decision. Everyone was happy for Isocrates, the first man ever to become a god of Olympus. The night has fallen deep and heavy, and most of the people have already returned to their houses. Only a few of them are still drinking inside. Even fewer are in a state to converse, talk to each other, or even speak clearly and properly. They cannot articulate words at all, they are just sitting wherever they could! Those who could not handle their alcohol are sleeping in the streets. Before they pass out, some of them tried to brawl. For no apparent or rational reason at all. With that much alcohol pumping in their blood, everyone would like a good fight to change the atmosphere, to satisfy their instincts which are in total control, to liven up the mood. Of course, any of those efforts have ended up with one of the combatants lying unconscious on the ground and the other one throwing up before they finally share the same destiny, down as the previous soldier. Alcohol can easily turn anyone into a brave and competent warrior! Even the people working on the tavern have sipped a little red wine. Not enough to make them drunk though, they have to look after the tavern. Athens is renowned for the good, quality wine produced here in the vineyards of the city.Bookmark here

However, not exactly everyone has participated in the feast, not all the people gathered here were celebrating. There was a man among the crowd who was watching with cautious eyes. He was not drinking much. In fact, he had avoided engaging in conversations, drinking contests or whatever else was happening. He had stayed rather silent the entire night. He was observing without intervening.Bookmark here

“You have had it good tonight. Sleep! Sleep well, Athenagoras. Sleep and have sweet dreams, because your dream will not come true in real life. You will not see me losing. Ever! Zeus has done you a huge favour. The gods have given you, and your friends a precious gift. And you have celebrated for it extensively tonight. Good for you, because I will not let you have it your way.”Bookmark here

Diomedes is mumbling to himself while standing on top of the sleeping Athenagoras who is resting on a tavern's long bench covering up the whole space.Bookmark here

“You were drinking until the very dawn, quite the feat. Don’t you think, Athenagoras?! After all you find pleasure in this. You are a vigorous man who enjoys doing feats for his city. Am I right? Or am I wrong?! Ω φιλοδίκαιε και ενάρετε Αθηναγόρα! (O virtuous Athenagoras!) And I am standing in the way of your righteous plans! I am a nuisance to you hence you must get rid of me! But I will not do you the favour! I am not giving up that easily! We are only in the beginning!”Bookmark here

It is early in the morning; the sun is rising. The tavern is finally closing for the day, the previous day! Diomedes continues his monologue as he passes by Athenagoras who is sleeping peacefully. He is angry, furious. He had to hold back all night and celebrate with everyone else in the tavern for the new god. It was a tough day for him, and it kept on being tough in the night too. But he will not let things randomly happen. He has to act, and he will. He knows that Zeus’s choice to make Isocrates a god will not directly affect his status in the city of Athens. He must protect his fame and property. He must take care of what he has created for himself. He must keep his belongings safe from whatever threat. And that he will do, he is determined. He might already have a plan in the making or he might think of one together with his supporters. The priests want the same thing as he does. Wealth and authority! They know that he is a person of trust, because he is in danger of losing riches and his position in the social rankings of Athens as well. Diomedes can turn to them because of the same reason. Bookmark here

“Sleep! Dream of your new god. Dream of him. You will ask him for favours very soon. Can he grant your wishes, though? Well, we will see that. We will witness his power, his work as a god. And we will see my power and work for the city as well. And then we have to judge! Witnesses bear that responsibility!” Diomedes tells at the many bodies of drunks lying on the ground as he is walking in the street. He has exited the tavern heading somewhere hastily.Bookmark here

Temple of DelphiBookmark here

The sun has risen higher than the mountains surrounding the city of Athens giving her the famed shape of a bowl. Diomedes has reached his destination, the temple of Delphi. He has information to share. The priests must have waited patiently for him to come back from the tavern. He stands before the stairs to catch his breath. He was not running, but he is not the athletic type to be honest. He is not fat or untrained either. He is rather old compared to the others, compared to Athenagoras and Isocrates. And his age betrays him this time. Though he does not rest for long. He inhales deeply, and he is ready. He is walking up the stairs. The priests appear from the insides as he is walking towards the entrance of the temple. They stay inside waiting for him to walk at them.Bookmark here

“So, you came.” the five priests stop a little further from the temple’s entrance in a pyramid formation. One at the top, two in the middle, three at the back. All dressed in their light brown cloaks symbolizing the earth, the soil of Athens. Priests are allowed to choose their attire, as long as it is respectful and retains some relevance to the religion and the gods. Delphi is the biggest temple of the city thus they chose to represent themselves with the light brown colour. How is that relevant to religion and the gods? Brown is the colour of the bronze shield and the wooden spear symbols of many gods among the twelve Olympians. Some of them being Ares, and Athena to whom Athens owns its name.Bookmark here

“I did as you told me. I went to the tavern. I made no fuss about anything. I simply stood there as silent as I could and watched them.” Diomedes tells the priests as he is entering the temple.Bookmark here

“Very well, Diomedes! Please, tell us what happened yesterday in Agora and last night in the tavern. What have they decided? Did they say something that might be strange or useful? Tell us everything you have seen. Do not omit any detail, no matter how small or insignificant it may seem.” The priests are curious. They are facing a difficult situation. They need to know, the more the merrier.Bookmark here

“Athenagoras spoke first in Agora. He started the conversation in order to direct it towards the way he wants to. He tried to convince the crowd that we do not need you. We are in no need of priests anymore since Isocrates, a mortal, a human, one of us like he passionately said many times, has become a god now. By Zeus’s hand, he emphasized. Priests, you might have an inkling! Why did Zeus do such a thing?” Diomedes once more refers to Athenagoras with hatred filling his very soul. While he explains what happened yesterday in Agora, he is fidgeting, he is twiddling his fingers. He tries his best to contain his distaste for Athenagoras. Before he continues describing, it comes to his mind to ask the priests about Zeus and his sudden decision. The whole situation yesterday was so unexpected that he completely forgot to ask the obvious. It did not occur to him until right now.Bookmark here

“The gods are the gods. Their words and actions are their will. We cannot understand each and every one of their deeds, and we should not attempt to. They gods have the knowledge. They have the wisdom to make the right decisions. We must respect them and follow their guidance. You must be more careful when you mention them, Diomedes. They are omnipresent. They watch over their flock all the time, and their flock must believe at them all the time. Please, do not forget that.”Bookmark here

The priests make it clear to Diomedes that he must not deny the gods and their will. They might see him favourably, but he must not forget that when it comes to gods all humans are and should be believers only. He should know his limits. Diomedes stops his fidgeting at once. He understands very well the seriousness off their advice. He has crossed the line, but it will not cost him this time. He does not want to anger the gods or the priests by any means. Diomedes is very cautious of his treatment towards allies. He is also wary of his religious conduct. He strives for his demeanor to resemble that of a devoted believer, a pure heart follower of the gods.Bookmark here

“We do not know why or how Zeus decided to make Isocrates into a god. We do not know what led him to that decision. But we must respect his will as is. We must not ask the cause behind his actions for he has never betrayed our faith. We must keep on believing in him, in them for the gods know better than we do.” The priests resume their response. This is their way of teaching religion manners, their way of replying to everyone entering the temple of the gods. They turn every little situation to a preaching. It will not last long though as there are other words that need to be spoken this time, more important than their holy preaching.Bookmark here

“Forgive me! I have lost my composure, but it will not happen again!” Diomedes did not learn anything about Zeus and why he chose Isocrates. Was it a hurried decision? Why Isocrates in particular?Bookmark here

“Very well. Please go on, continue.” The priests accept his apology. They encourage him to explain further yesterday’s events. They need to learn more.Bookmark here

“Meletios told Athenagoras and everyone else that while thinking like this is not wrong, we have to be patient. He proposed to wait before we visit the temple again asking for favours. It is an opportunity and we must not let it go to waste, he continued. He tried to calm the crowd. He did not want hasty decision made neither action without much thought. He is a real nuisance. He is composed and thoughtful. He will not leave things to destiny. He will take destiny in his hands. If he wants something to happen, I think he has his way to achieve it. He is a bigger threat than Athenagoras. Athenagoras might be serious about his desire to make Athens great, a city belonging only to its people. But Diomedes can easily manipulate the crowd, any type of crowd.Bookmark here

“Do you believe that we should keep an eye on him? He has not shown any worrying signs so far.” The priests want to hear Diomedes’ opinion, since he mentioned him with words showing great unease and discomfort.Bookmark here

“I consider him a strong enemy. I am pretty sure that he will cause us problems. We should be careful. So far, he has not done anything, but it is crystal clear that he is supporting Athenagoras and his plans. We should consider him an enemy at least.” Diomedes thinks of Athenagoras as the main enemy, as the leader of this rebellion against the priests and religion. Still, he considers Meletios as a possibly bigger, more severe problem for the near future.Bookmark here

“Alright, we have heard you. What happened next? Did the people, anyone from the crowd, say something? Did they all agree?” The priests need to know the response of the people. What do they think of the words they have just heard? Do they support the idea? Are there any priests’ believers left? Do they have any followers, any supporters left, among the crowd?Bookmark here

“I stepped in! I told the people gathered in Agora that those vulgar ideas of Athenagoras are not to be taken seriously. We need our priests as much as we need our gods. There is no reason for us to get rid of them.” Diomedes is not exactly telling lies. Still, he is hiding some of the truth. He is misinforming the priests about what really happened. He did say that they should not even think of such profane, sacrilegious actions. However, it was more of a personal attack against Athenagoras rather than him telling the people.Bookmark here

“You should have stayed silent. You should not have disobeyed our words. You should have done as we have told you to do.” Because of his intervention the priests have not learned anything about what the people think of them or the matter in question.Bookmark here

“But if I have not taken action, they would have convinced the people in Agora. And then, there would not be anything left for us to do at all. It would have been an irreversible situation from the very beginning of the dispute issue. I could not let Athenagoras and Meletios do as they pleased. I had to intervene. My words carry weight. My opinion matters. I am a respected, eminent person in the city of Athens. I could not let them have it their way. I had to stop them before it was too late.” Diomedes replies to the priests. He is certain that his intervention was not a wrong decision, nor it was a disobedience.Bookmark here

“We see. You might be right. We cannot ignore the fact that you had your reasons to make that decision at the time. We should trust your loyalty to us.” The priests do not seem to be angry with Diomedes’ intervention. They do not consider it a disobedience. They have told him words of advice, not orders.Bookmark here

“So, did they or did you convince them? What did they say?” The priests directly ask.Bookmark here

“None! She! She cut in as—”Bookmark here

“She? Who? I thought you have said that Meletios and Athenagoras were talking before you stepped in. Who was she that has decided to speak now?” The priests are a little confused. They are not getting clear answers.Bookmark here

“My words had enraged Athenagoras. He had turned against me uttering vile words. I could have used that to my benefit! But she… She came out of nowhere! Alexandra, she had cut in!”Bookmark here

“Alexandra? Do you mean the woman that regularly visits the temple? That Alexandra, you are referring to?” The priests are in disbelief. They can not believe their ears!Bookmark here

“Yes, she is the person I am talking about. Although she did not intervene to take their side. She announced that she would be the mediator between humans and Isocrates, but she never mentioned anything about what will happen with the priests. She just suddenly said that and nothing more. Everyone was taken aback, including me as well. The others simply agreed, I went with the current. I had no choice. It was so quick. It happened rapidly.” Diomedes informs the priests of Alexandra’s attitude and actions. They know her well since she comes to the temple quite often, hence they could not believe that she would turn her back to them. But she never did anyway.Bookmark here

“Alexandra would not betray the gods’ trust. She is very diligent and religious.”Bookmark here

“It seems you know her well only inside the temple.” Diomedes does not consider Alexandra a dangerous enemy, but he has a different opinion from the priests regarding her overall behaviour.Bookmark here

“Know her or not, we better not jump to conclusions very fast. Her actions matter to us more than her manners outside the temple, if she even does anything to count as problematic behaviour.” The priests support Alexandra. They warn Diomedes to carefully look the facts before he judges.Bookmark here

“She does not look like an enemy we have to worry about. But I do not think we should let her of the hook. In the tavern she was celebrating closely with Athenagoras. She must also be acquainted with Meletios, a good friend of Isocrates’ dead father.” Diomedes agrees with the priests at last. Still, he expresses his concern towards Alexandra.Bookmark here

“Then, explain to us what happened in the tavern. What did they do and say there?” The priests do not want to stick onto Alexandra’s topic. They ask to learn further, since Diomedes brought up the tavern discussion.Bookmark here

“Meletios retained his calm temper throughout the whole night. She drank his share of wine, but not anything extreme to disorient him from his usual behaviour.”Bookmark here

“It was a mere night of celebration in other words. We know well what sins are committed at such nights. We need no further explanation. We do not want to dirty our ears!” The priests are ready to go back inside the temple to perform their duties. They have heard enough. They turn…Bookmark here

“Hold on a minute! I never said that is all!”Bookmark here

“What else of importance do you have to share with us?” The priests seem to want the discussion to end here.Bookmark here

“You have warned me a few times today about several things, but it seems that you forget to do as you teach. Athenagoras and Alexandra were also in the tavern, joining the celebrations. Don’t you want to hear how they celebrated?” Diomedes retorts in a sharp, rather witty manner.Bookmark here

“Hahaha, not bad, Diomedes Our fault! We should have let you finish. Well, we hope you have something good to say after that smart innuendo. We are hearing, proceed.” The priests are not pleased with his reply, but they must admit it. He has a point. They hide their defeat with a slight laugh and a slighter smile.Bookmark here

“They were laughing. They were making toasts as they were clinking their glasses. They were drinking. Alexandra and Athenagoras were messing with each other in a joyful atmosphere filled with a playful mood. While everyone was admiring Alexandra for her immense loyalty to the gods and was saying kind words for the bright future awaiting her, she said something interesting at some point.
«I will move forward trying to do what I think is best for me. I will try to be of help to Isocrates and Athens.» She said.
No gods, no belief, just herself. She might appear as a devoted believer, but I think she is not that loyal. I do not know how she does it though.”Bookmark here

“Is that it? You really think that because she spoke like this, she is to be considered dangerous?! We see her day after day coming here in the temple to pray. She is harmless. You are being overly cautious, Diomedes. Relax! We understand that you are trying to be careful, but you have overdone it this time.”Bookmark here

“She did not only say that! She did not only celebrate with Athenagoras and Meletios, but she was also speaking with a woman who was covering her face deeply with a hood. They were talking about Isocrates. They were saying something about help and support. Unfortunately, I could not find an angle to have a clear look at her face, she was covering it very well. Despite that being the most significant of her yesterday talks, she was also speaking with many men and a few women. I think she is planning on something big, involving a lot of people. Athenagoras is a man of the army. He is a renowned soldier, a proud warrior. In most cases he was also there together with Alexandra making conversations. Their connections should have increased significantly in numbers since last night. They are already established members of our society, but they are fighting me along with you. They need lots of allies and they have already started working towards it.”Bookmark here

“Diomedes you are overreacting. We are not in a war with anyone. It is true that we should think twice before we do anything silly which will cost us. But you are going too far.”Bookmark here

“Too far? Everything I have built. Everything I have fought for. Everything I have achieved is on the line. I cannot afford to relax and calmly sit back waiting for them to take everything from me. I am not going to lose.” Diomedes is losing his temper. He is almost yelling at the priests. Still, he is able to hold back a little. He tries to think clearly and calmly.Bookmark here

“All I am saying is that we need to carefully examine their actions.” He lowers his voice.Bookmark here

“Alright, alright. We should have a talk with Alexandra to clarify her motives. We will also call Athenagoras to explain himself, to explain his intentions regarding us and religion. Will that satisfy you, Diomedes?”Bookmark here

“It will. But do not speak to Alexandra, leave her to me instead. You should just call Athenagoras. And do not mention anything about Alexandra or what we talked about.” Diomedes looks calmer now.Bookmark here

“Do not worry. We are not kids. We know how to protect ourselves.” The priests are already heading back inside the temple. Diomedes waits a little longer in the entrance standing still with his head up looking at the sky. He mutters something and clenches his fist raising his left hand up to the chest.Bookmark here

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'They will be tired from last night. I doubt that they will do anything today. They will probably prefer to rest, regain their energy. It will give me enough time to think of a good strategy. I have to think of a way to learn more about Alexandra and what she is planning. And that woman with the hood, I must find her! I must, at least, learn who she is.'Bookmark here

Zach G
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