In Search of a Light
Heracles thought his days of arduous labors were a thing of the past. However, after waking up night after night from his wife Hebe’s dreadful screams of terror, due to her fear of the dark one too many times, Heracles was desperate to do something. He was exhausted! Heracles thought of a clever plan; he would retrieve his father’s lightning bolt to use as a night light that would last forever so that he could ease his new wife’s fears and finally get some much needed rest.
Heracles set out that very evening from Mount Olympus toward the temple of his sister, Athena, since she had been charged with the responsibility of keeping the lightning bolt safe. He knew that traveling by foot to the Parthenon would take too long, so he decided to take the most direct route straight across water and land to get there.
The sea was violent and bitterly cold, and Heracles was seasick most of the time. He sailed for weeks before finally reaching land. Heracles could hardly wait to get onto land; he leapt from the ship into the ice cold ocean and swam to shore. Despite its frigid temperature, the water felt wonderful, considering Heracles hadn’t bathed in nearly a month, and he was left feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
The walk to Athens would be easy after that miserable journey across the sea, thought Heracles. He walked through city after city until he finally reached Athens. The Parthenon stood out from all the other buildings. Heracles felt like an ant at the bottom of an anthill as he gazed up at the mighty Parthenon. The gargantuan door towered over him. Heracles knocked and waited. The silence caused Heracles to grow eager and impatient, until he heard faint footsteps. A small rectangular window in the door quickly slid open, and a pair of black stared back at Heracles, judging him. Heracles stated his name, and the eyes almost looked angry. The window slammed shut, and Heracles could hear nothing, not even footsteps. The door opened, and a tall woman motioned him in. This was not Athena. The woman led him down a long hallway. He wished he could run to get through the hall but stayed respectfully behind the woman’s slow pace.
Finally, when they reached the end of the hall, the passageway opened up into a large room. The servant who had escorted him in quickly turned and retreated from the grand room. In the middle of the room sat Athena weaving a long, beautiful tapestry.
Heracles walked up to Athena and politely introduced himself to the half sister he had never met. Athena continued as though he wasn’t even there. This was the first company Athena had had in months, maybe years, and she was bitter about the lack of callers she’d had. Athena pretended he was not here; she didn’t care for his company. Heracles feared Athene would turn him into a spider, just as she did to Arachne. Heracles considered a way to get her attention without angering her.
“That is one of the very most carefully crafted blankets I have ever seen! It’s almost as stunning as you are, Athena. How do you do it?” inquired Heracles.
He thought it was just the thing to say and hoped he would charm his way into convincing Athena to let him take his father’s prodigious lightning bolt. It was certainly enough to catch her attention, and Athena was suddenly thrilled to have company. Athena’s cheeks filled with color, and she began pouring out her passion for her love of weaving. Heracles stood there and listened. He pretended to be engaged and interested in what she was talking about. When he sensed an opportunity, he spoke up.
“Beautiful Athena, Zeus has sent me to retrieve his mighty lightning bolt. He told me to leave as soon as possible,” announced Heracles with a smile. “He thinks you have worried long enough with the responsibility of guarding it. He said your talent for weaving great tapestries should have your full attention,” Heracles added.
“Oh, yes”, Athena said proudly in agreement. She was relieved about not having such a great responsibility any longer.
Athena led him down another long hallway toward a room. The whole time Athena babbled on and on about weaving and sewing, and Heracles continued his false interest in what she was saying. Athena pulled the mighty thunderbolt out of a large wooden box and simply handed it to Heracles. The mighty bolt was as bright as the sun. He put it back in the box for safekeeping. Athena walked Heracles to the door but made him promise to come back for a visit from time to time, which he did, while crossing his fingers behind his back.
He smiled and waved to Athena as he walked away from the Parthenon, eager to begin his long journey back to Mount Olympus and his new wife, Hebe. Finally, he thought, I just might get that night of good sleep that I’ve longed for!
Search of a Light
In Search of a Light