Tuesday, 26 April 2016

The Death of Euro

To Brexit or not to Brexit, that is the question...

Today I was leafing through a book of myths and came across this piece called 'The Death of Euro' and was struck by how uncannily prescient it seemed to be. I felt as if it could almost have been written yesterday...

In the beginning, the universe was dark and Chaos roamed the earth. The gods grew weary of their strength and fell to fighting with one another. Marcus rushed out of a forest and slew Francus and declared his hatred for Rubus. For three long winters, he tortured Rubus and starved and bludgeoned him so that his howls reached up into the heavens and caused cataracts in the sky. Pondus hid in a corner and prayed and waited. Then on a golden chariot Dolarus descended from the clouds and swept Pondus into his embrace. The two gods charged forth at Marcus, who tired and blood-soaked with the battle against Rubus, was overwhelmed and slain. And Rubus then exacted a great punishment on the body of Marcus. And then the universe was quiet once more.

But gods may never be slain forever, and Marcus stirred once more, and now wooed Francus whom he had slain and their sister god Lira and the three gods danced in a circle and embraced and constructed a great tent around them. And all whom the gods had once slain from the northern lands and the warm southern sea came together and washed their blood-soaked hands and kissed and made love to one another in the tent. And then they made a great fire and Marcus and Francus and Lira and many other gods stepped into the fire and were consumed in a blaze of light as a new great god was born who all bowed down and worshipped. And this god of gods was called Euro.

Pondus had slipped into the tent before Euro was born, but his body had not been caught in the flames that had extinguished Marcus and Francus and many other gods, and now when he first laid eyes on the beast god Euro emerging like a dragon-phalanxed phoenix from the bodies of his fathers and mothers, Pondus ran into a corner of the tent and cowered in fearfulness. But Pondus was alone. Pondus wanted to be part of Euro and enter into his body, but he feared to do so for he still clung to his own life. And the Heavens rang with laughter as they watched Pondus shiver in the darkness.

Now outside the tent Dolarus, god of Victory, ruled supreme in the West and in all the lands of the earth and did not fear Euro for he saw the mischief which Marcus and Francus and Lira had caused to the peoples of the Earth, and when Pondus cried to him for protection, he laughed and ordered Pondus to run back and enter into the body of the beast, that Pondus might best serve Dolarus if he gave up his life and entered into the spirit of Euro. But still Pondus feared and secretly wished that Dolarus might yield him protection from Euro for such a beast god had never existed in the firmament before, a god with a hydra head and the belly of a horse and the feet of a duck. But the voices in the heavens told Pondus to wait and see what new shapes the beast god Euro would assume, and from that he might know whether he too should enter into the beast. So Pondus waited in a corner of the tent and watched the new god begin to metamorphose.

Euro first assumed the shape of a bear and roared forth in a rage. And the bear grew larger and larger until everyone in the heavens said that such an enormous bear could not grow any further, but on and on and on it grew, and Pondus quaked in fear, and felt all life draining away from him, but swore that he would never enter into the body of a bear. Then night came. And when Pondus awoke, he saw that the bear god was no longer writhing, but slowly shrinking. Then Pondus looked again and saw the features of Euro seemed more like a bull than a bear that the head was ox-shaped and the claws on the feet were slowly turning into hoofs. And of all animals Pondus loved the bull the most for he loved to ride a bull and he had heard the words of a prophet telling him that he would be swooped up in the clutches of a great bull who would entrance him and together they would sweep into the sky and take away Dolarus' golden crown and subjugate all the peoples of the world.

Pondus watched and waited and the voices of the universe were in a torment, and there were voices shouting that Euro looked most bear-like and that Pondus should 'beware!' and fly with all dispatch out of the tent and into the forest because the bear would surely eat up Pondus; and there were voices in the firmament telling Pondus that no, the features of the beast were more bull-like than bear, and that the bull was the animal on which Pondus would ride in triumph across the whole world.

Pondus thought that he would go mad and that every part of his nature would be cleft in two by the voices shouting for him to go in or out of the beast. He shivered with fear and watched and waited as the bear's claws extended towards him. And somewhere in the features of the beast, in a shape neither bull nor bear, Pondus thought he spied the features of Marcus, whom once he had slain, but who had lived to be born anew in the innards of the beast.

(My translation from Old Norse; illustration by Karen McCann)

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