“According to Greek mythology, humans were originally created with four arms, four legs and a head with two faces. Fearing their power, Zeus split them into two separate parts, condemning them to spend their lives in search of their other halves.”
―Plato, The Symposium
In the beginning there was only one. The will of the stars had created it in the light out of their own image, and they recognized it as something good. Alone, it wandered the earth and listened to the vibrant song of the trees and the rivers; the lullabys of the wind and the wakeful mourning of the animals - both in the seas as in the heavens. The light of the sun fed it, and it knew no sadness. Its joy did not last long however.
Saddened, the light found that it could not join the song. For sometimes the birds sung gently, tender and light. At other times the rivers roared defiantly, yet it had no way of distinushing its tone. Its tone was simply mellow and uncharacteristic, neither strong or weak, nor light or dark. Disillusioned, it requested the heavens for help. How to make their song as beautiful as that of the earth, the birds and the rivers. 'Fore Long, providence heard the cry and responded. It said the following:
“Too sad it is that you are not able to join the song, nor add to its beauty, for I am certain you could do just so. Sadly, you are made of light. You contain all colours, shapes and sounds , which is why you cannot sing along with the variety of earth; For you are not of it, but above it. To be able to sing the song I must undo you and make you again, but now - not out of the light, but of the earth. Notwithstanding, I shall make you out of my image. It responded eagerly: Yes, do that. Make me of the earth so I can join that beautiful song. Only then can I be truly happy. And so the stars and planets above did just that, but not before issuing a warning. The earth is harsh and cold; As you will no longer be made of light, the sun will no longer sate your hunger. You will have to kill each day an animal or a plant and consume it so as to revive yourself. This fact will make you greatly unhappy, perhaps cause you harm. Yet, if you believe yourself to be truly happy when amidst and part of their song, I will not deny you this wish”. And so it was that it was made of earth
It wandered happily for a while, sometimes partaking – but often only listening to the song. Its song was so pristine and beautiful that as it walked – the birds would turn towards it, the rivers bent to the will of its song and the mountains echoed it. Now, as a shape of the earth, it could not only hear and sing with it, but also touch and feel and laugh and cry. Yet, as foretold by providence, it - which now called it self “sapio”- became even unhappier.
Every day would be spent either fluttering in the song over the meadows or perched in song with a flock of birds, but night proved a true horror. As evening dawned, so sapio would feel famished and weak – and as predicted the only way to sate the hunger was to kill something of the earth. Famished, sapio tore a wild cabbage from the ground and ate it. As he consumed it, so he consumed the sound and the song of the plant and the earth echoed in defiance.
And for a while, sapio was sated, but it did not last long. No amount of plant or fruit could sate him for long – and at nights he dreamed of flesh, red and swollen against his tongue. Sapio resisted the urge for a long time, because he feared the earth would be mad and perhaps do him harm.
Every plant he ate, subdued the song of the earth. Slowly, the song dissipated till it was nothing but a faint murmur. The animals would turn away as he walked past and the fixtures no longer bent in his favour.
At night it was cold – and during the day he was hot. The song changed in tone too.
Then sapio killed an animal, it was so hungry. Even though it wanted to sing their song it could not resist the pain that sung from inside of it in ominous and callous tones. He fashioned a dagger out of rock and wood and lay in wait.
A gazelle fell to sapio's dagger. Sapio tore into the flesh, the innards and the heart and ate it's fill. Sated, sapio looked up to the sky and began to cry when he realized he could no longer hear the song of the earth – the only song that remained to sapio was the song of the night.
Aimlessly, sapio wandered the earth – now removed from the songs of the earth. Alone and downtrodden, it felt another sensation, that of loneliness. For the second time sapio asked the heavens for help. “I see. So it is that the earth has removed itself from you, and you are no longer able to sing in unison with it? I told you this was what would happen, yet you did not listen. Now, I shall grant thee another wish. Out of you I shall fashion two beings – with each a tone of its own. Together then you shall be able yet again, to sing in utter harmony – but remember your song will not be of the earth!” Sapio agreed – and so the moon came down and split it in two genderless figures – one light and small, the other dark and big. Together, they marched happily along in perfect tune.
The animals fled as they approached, the mountains grew and the rivers widened in order to obstruct them - Their song filled with defiance. Little did the earth know that nothing could break the pair's song. Both out of the same being, they sang in perfect harmony. Every tone carried across the valleys and canyons in perfect harmony. No day could weaken it, and no night break it apart. Life, as the pair had deemed it, was happy.
Then the pair inquired providence for a third wish. The heavens told them it would have to be their last. They told them how beautiful their song was, how wondrous their tone carried across the landscape in perfect resonance; They told the heavens that they would like to expand it, so they could sing louder and longer – perhaps even contesting the song of the earth, which now seemed to them as a roaring stream of malevolence. So it was that the heavens – they had named it “God” - proclaimed.
“Three times have you come to me for help; And three times I will aid you. I cannot make many out of you, since you are only two and small – besides I think the earth would find great concern in me doing so. Yet, I can give you the tools to do so. To one I shall gift physical strength and ego, to the other intellect and compassion. Know this, at least, you will now be two distinct beings – sometimes at odds and sometimes in unison. You shall look different as well, and the one will always be attracted to the other no matter what. When you come together, you will now have the ability to create more of you. Yet, it will take a great toll. Perhaps the one giving birth won't survive giving birth to others – I shall grant the wish nonetheless”
The pair nodded in tacit consent and “God” did as he had been asked. He gave intellect and compassion to one – and called her “woman”. To the other he gave physical strength and ego and named him “man”. That done, he told them an ominous truth.
“So far have you strayed from the image of light – that you are no longer part of it or the earth. Your song is now your own, and yours entirely. You will breed and receive many children – this I know – but your children will be out of touch with nature. As your numbers grow, your tune will drown out even nature and slaughter all its habitants until yours is the only song that exists. It saddens me that this will come to pass, yet I cannot refuse my prime creation. Also, as someone outside of nature – you will fall under the claws of “time”. Come age, you will wither and die. Your song will grow feeble along with your body and you will corrode away. Once you are dead, you will return to the earth as ash. This is the only way I can grant this wish with a clear conscience, for it is not a gift I would like to bestow”
So mankind, the new race, multiplied. Sap and Eo, which they called themselves, birthed many children – who again had children of their own with names of their own. They lived out of touch with nature. Wherever they went, they would in due time kill all the animals, tarnish the water and make huge scars in nature for their hovels and settlements.
As time passed, they burned the elders and returned them to the earth as ash – a thing that pleased the stars. Yet, the more children were born – the less choose to sing. Preoccupied with living their lives both sated and merrily, few people had time to sing. The only sound mankind created was as the screams of the earth as they dug it up in search of rare stone or metals; The howling of the beasts as they killed them for nourishment; And their screams and wailing from within their settlements. Soon, the only song the celestials heard were the sad wailing of the earth as mankind slowly nibbled it away. And “God” was sad.
Mankind progressed, meandering from the center all the way to the far extremities of the wold – tearing it apart as they went. Bridges were built to ford the rivers, who had long since forgotten their song. Roads of brick and mortar tore into the landscape, which wailed in horror. Beast, both undersea as in the air - or on the plains – ran terrified about, in search of a moments respite.
Great towns were made, which sucked the surrounding landscape dry.
All the while, the stars and planets above resigned themselves to the song they had created. A sad dissonance, which ebbed out as mankind traversed across the earth. Bedrock and Ruin lay in their wake.
An eon later mankind told the heavens they had another wish. By now, they had created a song of their own again, though it was no song the heavens recognized. It was the song of misery. The song of rape and abuse - Industry and time. A song of hunger and desperation. “God” told them, he would not grant them another wish – seeing as how former request had done little good.
Mankind was angry, so they built a tower of rock and mortar. No adornments on the facade, and no artistic beauty in the architectural design. Simply, a long winding tower which aimed to reach heaven itself. As the tower grew, so increased that awful wailing of mankind. Growing closer the stars and planets heard the lashing of the whip, the lamentations of the bulls and the creaking of the backs. The mountains inquired the gods to stop the madness, and the wildlife nicked in tacit consent. Long mankind toiled. No sung hung in the air, no “God” made a move.
As the tower neared its completion. God chose to act, and now he cursed mankind. First, he scattered them to the winds in total randomness. Then he spread languages, in all manners and colors, to all the corners of the world. Then he sang. A song of creation and destruction.
“The first wish I created, out of kindness and true love
As you wanted the earth, I acted from above.
A wish is but a wish, and there is no miraculous cure.
Seized by eternal hunger, into the earth you tore.
The second was granted, out of hope and sore remiss
I wanted you not to be lonely, to share eternal bliss.
But nothing is clear-cut, all is mirrored in shades of grey.
As you found another piece, you laid waste to the sounds of day”
The third was granted, in solemn tones of yore,
I wanted you to see, what evil fruits your new song bore.
And now I see you've proven, by arrogance and destruction,
the song that I Enabled, looks foul in retrospection.
A fourth wish I shall grant, though not a wish for sure.
It is a curse upon you, for the labors that you bore.
I shall scatter men and women, different voices you shall speak.
You will in eternal hunger, your true love always seek.”
And so it was that mankind evolved songlessly, always searching for their other half. Spread to the winds, mankind spent its days building and toiling ahead with no clear purpose or desire. The most arduous toil however, was to find their hearts desire.