Continued from Part 0.
I am afraid the Temple of Apollo will be like that of Aphrodite.
However, my fears were unfounded.
The beautiful women and men walking the hallways — and rendered in art — are all tastefully, even fashionably clothed.
Except for him.
E. Um, would you mind putting on a towel or something?
A. (smiling) Why? Are your uncomfortable around my manhood? Or perhaps your own?
A. (chuckling) Very well, Son of Adam. I will take pity on you.
He gestures to two maidens, who bring him a silk robe. He shrugs into it, then sits down on a golden throne. He gestures for me to take a seat across from him.
A. So tell me, Son of Adam. What brings you to my temple?
E. I wish I knew. Ares seems to have bound me on some sort of quest. I think he and you represent parts of me that that I have not reconciled with, and therefore have not been fully reconciled with God.
A. Fascinating. But I am not like my wild sister, little man. I have no shadow side or secret shame, being the personification of the sun itself. I have already paid my dues, and am fully content to be myself under the rulership of the One Most High.
E. Huh. Maybe. Somehow, I doubt things are as settled as that.
A. Excellent! It has been a long time since I have tasted of humility. Perhaps someday you shall return, and grant me fodder for a new song. Until then, perhaps it is my turn to help you. What boon do you wish of me?
E. Well, Ares seemed to imply you might know if, and how, I need to go on a quest.
A. Indeed I do! (Eyes twinkling)
E. And… are you going to tell me?
A. But of course!
(An even longer pause)
E. Um, when?
A. When you actually ask me that question!
A. This is your problem, Ernie. You want to hide behind your philosopher’s robes, hoping that others will take pity on you and give you what you want. You don’t want to become vulnerable by sharing, or even admitting, your deepest desires. A real man not only knows and accepts what he wants, he is not afraid to ask it!
E. That’s easy for you to say! You lived in a world of patriarchy, where women were exploited and treated as playthings. Things are more civilized now. Surely it is not a sin to be sensitive, is it?
A. (shrewdly). Ah, sensitive. Is that the virtue you are claiming for yourself?
E. Uh-oh. Is this the part where you tell me I am so worried about appearing sensitive, that I fail to notice what I and others truly need?
A. No, this is the part where you tell yourself that! And I bet you are even smart enough to figure out what comes next.
E. (sighing). Yes, I suppose I am.
E. O mighty Apollo, I confess how little I know of true manhood, and often settle for shallow counterfeits. What must I do to receive the fullness of your gift?
A. (beaming) Now you are asking the right question!
E. So… does this mean I will finally get my answer?
A. Of course! Just as soon as you bring an offering.
E. Wait, what?
A. (snorting) You moderns, always thinking information should be free. Perhaps there is some virtue in that. But real knowledge, true knowledge, useful knowledge — that always carries a terrible cost.
A. I ask an offering not to sate my ego or fill my coffers, but because you must do the hard work to empty yourself before you can be filled.
E. (Stares at him, then finally nods) Okay, fair enough. What offering do you require?
A. Oh, you’re gonna love this one…
To be continued