Pygmies war with cranes
I am rereading the most amazing book — The Greek Myths by Robert Graves. This is the third time I am reading this wonderful, poetic retelling of a cornucopia of religious beliefs from Ancient Greece. The first time I read it, I think I was about 14–15 years old, and the memory of it is still fresh. I still remember the profound effect that book had on me then. That book helped me to leave the Catholic Church and Christian dogma. That book made me aware that people make religions and creeds when trying to understand things around them that defy explanation, and trying to find peace and a place for themselves in a world that apparently doesn’t care much about them. I become a materialist and realist in my teen years, in big part because of this book (I am no longer that now, but that is a whole different story).
And while reading this book again last evening, I found this fragment of the sentence — ”pygmies war with cranes”. As it happens a lot with me when I am reading, I had to stop and think for a long while about those four words. And I still think about those four words. They seem to be etched into my mind — pygmies war with cranes, I keep repeating it to myself. I understand each word separately:
pygmies — native residents of Central Africa, short in stature
war — a violent act, common to humans thorough out the ages
with — a preposition indicating the relationship
cranes — tall, arrogant, waddling birds
But put together, they are more than just some words on the page. They are a short, extremely short introduction to an ancient mystery. Something that was common knowledge back then when the myths were first created and then repeated enough times to survive to our times in a fragment on a parchment found somewhere. And then used in a book, and that one book I happened to be reading. So, once upon a time, there was a vicious confrontation between men and birds, and it had enough significance to survive as a memory in a myth. And the questions about it just keep coming — where did it happen? Why did it happen? How did it happen? Who was involved? What was the reason and result of that war? Those questions are unanswered, but my imagination is working in overdrive filling the blanks. And that is the reason I keep reading — to find something, even just a few words, to keep me going in the drudgery of everyday life.