The Sorcerer lived like a well-to-do scholar. He said:
“You admit with credulity and abhorrence the reality of the infernal art of magic, which is able to control the eternal order of the planets and the voluntary operations of the human mind. You dread the mysterious power of spells and incantations, of potent herbs, and execrable rites; which can extinguish or recall life, inflame passions of the soul, blast the works of creation, and extort from the demons the secrets of futurity. You believe, with the wildest inconsistency, that this preternatural dominion of the air, of earth, and of hell, is exercised from the vilest motives of malice or gain, by some wrinkled hags and itinerant sorcerers, who pass their obscure lives in penury and contempt. The arts of magic are equally condemned by public opinion and the law; but, as they tend to gratify the most imperious passions of the heart of man, they are continually proscribed and continually practiced.”
“An imaginary cause is capable of producing the most serious and mischievous effects. The dark predictions of the death of an emperor, or the success of a conspiracy, are calculated only to stimulate the hopes of ambition and to dissolve the ties of fidelity; and the intentional guilt of magic is aggravated by the actual crimes of treason and sacrilege.”
“Antiochians claim Chrestos was invented there, and they content themselves with disobeying the moral precepts, but they were scrupulously attached to the speculative doctrines of their religion.”
So said the Sorcerer on that occasion.
SPECULATIONS ON THE LATE HERETIC PHARAOH
They called you heretic, mad, megalomaniac, monotheist,
And you were probably all of those,
And perhaps a hermaphrodite, or a woman,
And you married your sister, daughter, mother,
And had an affair with your son.
You set up your own city in the friendless desert,
And gathered together friends and families,
Commoners as queens, Hebiru as bureaucrats,
Raised temples and children, palaces and stele,
To mark your City of the Sun.
The old priests said you were evil, cursed by the gods,
When you closed their doors and temples,
Took away their goods and pride,
And canceled their services “forever,”
To be replaced by the one true One.
It took time for the people to feel the old gods’ wrath,
Their old priests had to wait many poisoned years,
While your Aten-god sun-disk grew remote,
And lost the hearts of your bewildered people,
Who looked for one true god and found none.
Would you still stand, if the old priests had let you be?
Probably not, heretic pharaoh Akhenaten,
With your hymns of praise to the Aten,
With your golden god of love, blinding you
With a power too great for your simple human mind.
For gods are renewable, replaceable, and to be forgotten,
Trooping in their legion down the corridors of time,
Leading the way to salvation or perdition,
They’re really all the same in endless ordinary lives,
Amused by the heretic’s deepest, most ordinary crimes.
PAY FREAKIN’ ATTENTION, G’DAMMIT!
I have always had this desire to reach out and grab a person and shake the living bejazzus out of him or her, and yell, “What the hell’s the matter with ya, fer chris’sakes? Are you nuts? Wake up, for gawd’s sake! Wake up, dammit!”
Just like that, with all the histrionic emphasis and shouting.
When I have their attention, and they’re scared witless, I will say, “Sorry to bother you. I got a little excited.” And walk away.