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The possibility of perfection mentioned in More Or Less and Around and Around It Goes was not lost on the Greeks. Chaos and Nyx (Night) brought forth Erebus (Darkness), and Erebus dethroned Chaos to produce Æther (Light) and Hemera (Day) with his mother Nyx, and Æther and Hemera dethroned Erebus and Nyx and brought forth Eros (Love), and Æther and Hemera and Eros together formed Pontus (the Sea) and Gæa (the Earth), and then Eros pierced Gæa with his arrow to make her resplendent with plants and animals, and Gæa created Uranus (Heaven), and together they supplanted Æther and Hemera to bring forth — and then banish to Tartarus — the twelve Titans, including Cronus (Saturn), the three Cyclopes and the Centimanes, and Gæa, in grief over the banishment of her children, conspired with Cronus to castrate and overthrow Uranus with a scythe she brought to him. Afterwards, there followed a time of great peace and plenty, a time of perpetual spring.

The Greeks gave a very human dimension to things.

Perpetual springtime requires that the axis of the Earth be in perfect alignment with the axis of the Sun. (Any tilt would cause seasonal variations.) So, the days and nights would be equal, and the Earth's orbit, as Galileo insisted it must be, would be circular. And, as mentioned earlier this week, all things being perfect, the year would be 360 days long.

The Greeks saw in this possible perfection not how things might become, but how things had already been. Our tendency is to see the world as perpetually evolving toward perfection. Every latest electronic device offers us a kind of proof. The Greeks found in the obvious imperfections of the world a sign not that improvement or advancement was necessary, but that somewhere, something had gone fundamentally wrong. The Judeo-Christian tradition offers an idyllic Eden in which there is a man, a woman, a snake, an apple, some trees, and a god who walks around. By comparison to the lusty Greeks, it seems embarrassingly simplistic. Our story says that everything went wrong because… Well, because we were curious. Original guilt. Do as you're told, it says. It accounts for nothing of the actual world we see. Every detail of existence is ignorred except those featuring right and wrong. The Greeks called their perfection, in accordance with alchemical principles, golden. It was the Golden Age, a period symbolized by a magical three-dimensionalized circle though which our every want and need was provided — the cornucopia. We remember it, whether we realize it or not, every Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Obviously, it did not last.

The price of freedom is eternal vigilance, and the price of Paradise is much the same. One by one Cronus swallowed his children, those with his wife/sister Rhea, to protect himself from the curse his father Uranus placed on him. All good stories have a curse. This one said that a child of Chronus would overthrow him. He swallowed all but one, and that one by a ruse. Rhea wrapped a stone in swaddling clothes in place of Zeus (or Jupiter) and offered it to Cronus with fake lament. Down the hatch. We get through the incest in Greek Mythology more easily, I think, than child swallowing. There were only so many women, after all. The Greeks would never invent a wife as the Bible does, east of Eden, just to keep the story going. They understood the urge to question. If you're going to cook, you have to have ingredients. But, surely, swallowing children is unduly graphic. Wasn't there a great chest or a dark and foreboding cave to choose from? Of course, it may have been essential to the plot — fathers internalizing their children. Or… Help me out here. Anyway, they were all safe and sound in their father's stomach — Poseiden, Hades, Hestia, Ceres, and Hera — when Zeus usurped the throne and sent Cronus packing.

In a nutshell, then.

A great war ensues. Not all the gods were content to have Zeus rule. The Titans, who represent great earthly forces, were released. Skip to an enormous clash in which mountains erupt from the earth, holes are ripped in the sky and Earth's axis is thrown off kilter. Nothing a few hundred million in CGI couldn't accomplish. The net result, except for global warming and the problem of over population, is a world that looks pretty much like the one we now inhabit.

No gradual evolution for the Greeks.

Another result was the emergence of springtime itself. Yes, it was already spring, but perpetual spring, an indefinite, unpunctuated period of perfection. Before there could be actual spring…

Ah, but that, as they say, is another story.
 
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