COFFEE AND TEA – Chapter Two – Ancient History
“Why are you interested in Ancient History?”
“The past is appealing” she stated much in the tone of “I love everything French,” and Ashton raised an eyebrow. “We keep digging to learn about our ancestors and their super clever ways of living without the perks of contemporary civilization. They made artifacts and created monuments and built wonders of the world such as the Pyramids, which have remained to tell their story. The ancient did challenging things such as inventing culture and running Empires. Empires were violent, unpredictable and not easy to rule.”
“Tell me, what does Ancient History mean to you?”
“I am a writer. Ancient History is full of stories. There is always a conflict – because for some reasons different cultures have always managed to make things worse for each other.”
“Like you are now making them for me.” – and Ashton gave her a lovely grin.
“What do you mean?” – she implored.
“Nevermind, teenage writer.” he said, “Why is Ancient History important to us?”
“It is the study of events and people, who have had an enormous impact on the world. We want to know about the development of religion – and how in ancient times power was constantly shifting from man to God. Ancient Egyptians believed in so many deities, that even their Pharaohs became Gods upon their death. People of Egypt also believed in the talents of amulets, magic, and divination. Cats had divine power.”
“If you had a lover from the ancient world, who would you grace: a gladiator, a priest, a philosopher, a Brahmin, a king, a Viking, a God, a patrician or a senator?”
“Let me think about it” – she smiled. “All of these men had presence and power that many find intoxicating.”
“Would you like me to tell you about them?”
“A Gladiator is by profession a fighter. Since Romans professed the principle Panem et circenses – bread and circuses, they used to spend a significant part of their lives on the amphitheaters where they watched combats for entertainment purposes. Gladiators were thrown into the arena to fight wild lions and bears, and fight each other to the amusement of the Emperor and the respectable citizens. Here originated the hand gesture which decided the fate of the overpowered gladiators – the thumbs-up and the thumbs-down – life or death. Gladiators, I have to say, were extremely well built – a paragon of dominance and rough passion. An outstanding gladiator would enjoy even the women of class, such as you.”
Isabel blushed. With all her senses she had transported in the said epoch and become a witness of the gory entertainment. She felt the excitement of the crowd, the cruelty of the battle and she imagined the gladiators’ libidinous bodies, bending in an act of love. She had open her mouth slightly when she focused on her companion and saw the amusement in his eyes.
“So tell me about the Egyptian priests. They must be more saintly.”
“Next in power to the Pharaoh is the Vizier – the Pharaoh’s most devoted and beloved advisor. Below the Vizier are the priests. The priest is the vicar of the Pharaoh. Priests are attractive because they had great hygiene practices. They would remove all their hair so that they have no desecration during their service of the Gods. Priests used to bathe twice during the day and twice during the night. 7 times a year, one hundred thousands of priests gathered on a massive memorial service honoring the divine cat.”
“Fabulous. I love cats!”
“Yes. Since times immemorial, humans have been great pets to cats.”
“How about the Greek Philosophers?”
“Ancient Greeks were really very cool. From democracy to fart jokes, they have contributed a lot to our world. Let us mention at least Aristophanes, who was also familiar as the father of comedy. In his play Women with Power, he invents a scenario in which the women of Athens take control of the government and try to enact reforms. Yes, history has done a lot to belittle women. Let’s eavesdrop one of the conversations in the play:
“Says Praxagora: I want all to share of everything, and everything to be common. There will no longer be rich and poor. I shall begin by making land, money, everything that is a private property common to all…
Says Blepyrus: But who will till the soil?
Praxagora: The slaves”
“Well, no wonder, after all the very word “music” comes from Greece!”
“The Brahmin?” Isabel enquired.
“As you might have heard – India is the cradle of civilizations. Hindus have a predefined life. Their society stays in balance because they know their dharma – which is the role in life you were born with. The caste system determines that the rich stay rich, and the poor stay poor. The Brahmin ranks as the top social class in India, he is a priest, teacher, and protector of the sacred lore. Even today Brahmins still enjoy wonderful privileges. Rumors are they make wonderful husbands after a large number of wedding ceremonies in which priests chant holy mantras in front of a fire.
Or would you rather have a King?
Even though they were supreme rulers over a territory and answered only the Emperor, even though they were God’s representatives on Earth, Medieval Kings were strikingly illiterate. Charlemagne could not write. In the Dark Ages Europe was dominated by superstitions. But nearly 3000 years ago, over Israel ruled Solomon, famous as his country’s wisest and wealthiest king. Rulers from other countries came to consult him. And, Isabel, the Queen of Sheba came from Arabia bearing gifts of spices, gold, and gems. She had heard about it, but even she marveled at the splendor of his lifestyle. He was ridiculously rich. They had a fine and true romance because he granted her “all that she desired, whatever she asked. “ Do you wish you could be her, Isabel? Solomon, the King had proverbial sexuality: his harem consisted of 700 wives and 300 concubines.”
Or are you enticed by the Viking’s male aggression, potency, and command? Pagan warriors, rough as they come, and all lands they invaded were helpless victims praying, “Oh God, save us from the wrath of the Normans!” Blue-eyed and blonde, trained from childhood to be strong in a combat; their heaven was warlike as their lifestyle. The chief God Odin presided over Valhalla, where you entered only after an honorable death in battle. So the Normans entered battle brave and joyful, hoping for the protection of their Gods. Would they be protected from you?
Or would you rather hit it off with a God? Historically, a lot of rulers were proclaimed as Gods and Sons of God. But I would like to resort to the vast wealth of mythology the Ancient Greeks left us. Gods lived on Olympus and patronized the mortals and their endeavors. My minion is definitely Hermes or the Roman Mercury – he was the messenger of Gods, the local media and he was a notorious prankster. He was also a dream god, a patron of music, the god of eloquence and for the aforesaid reasons, I believe he would get some of your attention, right writer?
Roman patricians and senators, on the other hand, were the privileged class of early Rome. Patrician means heir of the father, and it used to name the representatives of the generic aristocracy. A patrician rank was required for the successors to the throne. The Senate was the most important body of legislation and it consisted entirely of patricians. The most important senators were affluent landowners, and their position became almost feudal.
The man of riches, or the good lover, Isabel? Who would you give in to? Mind that the rich man may become a good lover if you work on him and a good lover may become a rich man if you work on him. Tell me, who would you give in to?”
“I would give in to a poet. A poet, who is eloquent, and wears glasses. A good-looking one and generous of attention.”