2020欧洲杯体育在线网址A legend is an attempt to explain the inexplicable; emerging as it does from a basis of truth, it is bound to end in the inexplicable.
We have four legends concerning Prometheus. According to the first of them, for betraying the gods to mankind he was shackled to a peak in the Caucasus, and the gods sent eagles that ate at his liver as it kept growing back.
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址According to the second, the pain of the jabbing beaks drove Prometheus ever deeper into the rocks until he became one with them.
According to the third, his betrayal was forgotten in the course of millennia: the gods forgot, the eagles forgot, he himself forgot.
According to the fourth, everyone grew tired of the procedure, which had lost its raison d’être. The gods grew tired, the eagles, too. Even the wound grew tired and closed.
The real riddle was the mountains.
A large loaf of bread lay on the table. Father came in with a knife to cut it in half. But even though the knife was big and sharp, and the bread neither too soft nor too hard, the knife could not cut into it. We children looked up at Father in surprise. He said, “Why should you be surprised? Isn’t it more surprising if something succeeds than if it fails? Go to bed, perhaps I’ll manage it later.” We went to bed, but every now and again, at all hours of the night, one or another of us got up and craned his neck to look at Father, who stood there, a big man in his long coat, his right leg braced behind him, seeking to drive the knife into the bread. When we woke up early in the morning, Father was just laying the knife aside, and said, “You see, I haven’t managed yet, that’s how hard it is.” We wanted to distinguish ourselves, and he gave us permission to try, but we could hardly lift the knife, whose handle was still almost glowing from Father’s efforts; it seemed to rear up out of our grasp. Father laughed and said, “Let it go. I’m going out now. I’ll try again tonight. I won’t let a loaf of bread make a monkey out of me. It’s bound to let itself be cut in the end; of course it’s allowed to resist, so it’s resisting.” But even as he said that the bread seemed to shrivel up, like the mouth of a grimly determined person, and now it was a very small loaf indeed.
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址A farmer stopped me on the highway and begged me to come back to his house with him. Perhaps I could help—he’d had a falling out with his wife, and their argument was wrecking his life. He also had some simple-minded children who hadn’t turned out well; they just stood around or got up to mischief. I said I would be happy to go with him, but it was doubtful whether I, a stranger, would be able to help him in any way; I might be able to put the children to some useful task, but I’d probably be helpless with respect to his wife, because quarrelsomeness in a wife usually has its origin in some quality in the husband, and since he was unhappy with the situation, he had probably already taken pains to change himself but hadn’t succeeded, so how could I possibly have more success? At the most, what I could do was divert the ire of the wife to myself. At the beginning, I was speaking more to myself than to him, but then I asked him what he would pay me for my trouble. He said we would rapidly come to some agreement; if I turned out to be of use, I could help myself to whatever I wanted. At that, I stopped and said that this sort of vague promise was not going to satisfy me—I wanted a precise agreement as to what he would give me per month. He was astonished that I’d demanded anything like a monthly wage from him. I in turn was astonished that he was astonished. Did he suppose I could fix in a couple of hours what two people had done wrong over the course of their entire lives, and did he expect me at the end of those two hours to take a sack of dried peas, kiss his hand in gratitude, bundle myself up in my rags, and carry on down the icy road? Absolutely not. The farmer listened in silence, with head lowered but tense. The way I saw it, I told him, I would have to stay with him for a long time to first become familiar with the situation and think about possible improvements, and then I would have to stay even longer to create proper order, if such a thing was even possible, and by then I would be old and tired and would not be going anywhere but would rest and enjoy the thanks of the parties involved.
“That won’t be possible,” the farmer said. “Here you are wanting to install yourself in my house and maybe even drive me out of it in the end. Then I would be in even more trouble than I am already.”
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址“Unless we trust each other we won’t come to an agreement,” I said. “Have I not shown I have trust in you? All I have is your word, and couldn’t you break that? After I’d arranged everything in accordance with your wishes, couldn’t you send me packing, for all your promises?”
The farmer looked at me and said, “You would never let that happen.”
“Do what you want,” I said, “and think of me as you please, but don’t forget—I’m saying this to you in friendship, as one man to another—that if you don’t take me with you, you won’t be able to stand it for much longer in your house. How are you going to go on living with your wife and those children? And, if you don’t take a chance and take me home with you, then why not drop everything and all the trouble you’ll go on having at home and come with me. We’ll go on the road together, and I won’t hold your suspicions against you.”
“I’m not at liberty to do that,” the farmer said. “I’ve been living with my wife now for fifteen years; it’s been difficult, I don’t even understand how I’ve done it, but in spite of that I can’t just abandon her without having tried everything that might make her bearable. Then I saw you on the road, and I thought I might make one final effort, with you. Come with me, and I’ll give you whatever you want. What do you want?”
2020欧洲杯体育在线网址“I don’t want much,” I said. “I’m not out to exploit your predicament. I want you to take me on as your laborer for life. I can do all sorts of work and will be very useful to you. But I don’t want to be treated like other laborers—you’re not to give me orders, I have to be allowed to do what work I please, now this, now that, now nothing at all, just as I please. You can ask me to do something as long as you’re very gentle about it, and, if you see that I don’t want to do it, then you’ll have to accept the fact. I won’t require money, but clothes, linens, and boots up to present standards, and replaced when necessary; if such things are unobtainable in your village, then you’ll have to go into town to buy them. But don’t worry about that, my present clothes should last me for years. I’ll be happy with standard laborers’ fare, only I do insist on having meat every day.”