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Theatre of Hades -- Dr. Greek Goes to Washington
Dr. Greek goes to Washington
It was always in his periods of greatest dejectedness and failure that led Dr. Greek to the Smithsonian Art Museum. Everything had turned upside down for him since his discovery of HADES. He always went straight to the works of the cubists that he turned to. It was their insistence of drawing their subjects from multiple angles in the same picture that lifted his spirits.
Perhaps the artists looked at their paintings a bit differently than he did. But what he saw was a refusal to surrender the three dimensions of an object when rendering it on a surface. He'd been taught perspective in his high school art classes. But these paintings were different. Perspective was intended to give the illusion of depth. These paintings, though their mission was impossible at the outset, seemed to desire to give the real depth of an object. There was something about seeing that refusal in a tangible object, not an abstraction, that gave him hope.
He had been in the museum five times in the last three weeks. Something had happened during the sixth month of having left his job. He saw something for the first time. It was a speck, nothing more. It was like a grain of sand in his eye. No one can actually see the grain in their eye. The eye just knows its there, and knows that it must wash it out. Not that he wanted to discard this speck. He only needed it out of his eye, so he could actually look at it.
Dr. Greek had hoped an extended visit to the Library of Congress would help him understand what he was looking for. He was a scholar, and libraries and archives were where he looked for answers. He remained convinced that the texts he had seen were real, and that for some reason an entity named HADES had shown them to him—and then taken them away.
Dr. Greek had approached this quandary from numerous angles. The nature of history was a huge issue. History begins with written records. Tangible language that had left behind that others could revive. He had seen texts lost to history. However, because he could not put them in his hands, they frustratingly remained pre-history. Oral tales—nothing more. It was quite an important distinction to make. An original text would not have been modified to “suit the times” to hide some truth a king or culture didn't want you to know. It would be the same words the author wrote. Yet for the first time since his intense scholarly training, the importance of this distinction seemed less important.
What had occupied Dr. Greek for so long wasn't scholarship. He began to understand that after five months of scholarship. The revival of Western civilization began with the discovery of the texts of the ancients. They were a foundation. He knew from his studies that many of the works of the ancients had been disproved. Ptolemy's earth, center of the universe, had been disproven centuries ago, but describing the movements of the universe with mathematics remained.
The rediscovered work of the Greeks, he had always passionately believed, had to be not just examined and debated, but protected. He wasn't a scholar. He was a guardian. This knowledge, this better understanding of who he was—that was the speck, the grain of sand in his eye.
What had he protected? A text of Plato no one ever read? A story about Atlantis eroded by hacks and popular culture? A language people didn't speak anymore? These things were trivia. No... there was something extremely important about Greece that drew him to it. It had dawned on him, looking at the historical borders of so many other cultures that their had been scholars in every culture with enough food to support people committed to full time inquiry.
What had been so special about the Greeks was that they had been rediscovered by a culture that believed in revelation. Truth had already been revealed by Christ, or more correctly the followers of Christ. The texts of the Greeks had been silent guardians of inquiry. The textual accuracy, in the end, was unimportant.
All of Dr. Greek's life and efforts seemed to dissolve upon this understanding and he was faced with another great sorrow. He felt there was something that he had to get done, and he didn't have any money. He had taken to writing papers on Greek culture for college students. At times this was as easy as taking a student paper and correcting it. At other times he faced the challenge of writing on a new topic and sounding like an incoming freshman rather than a doctor. It grated against every nerve he had as a teacher, and his only cold comfort was knowing that students didn't care about the subject either way.
In any case, Dr. Greek had to this point failed in uncovering anything about HADES. There were several ideas to tackle. One was that HADES was a codename for some black market antiquities organization. This was the simplest explanation: black market organization possessing ancient texts it wasn't supposed to have. It was, however, unsatisfying. Had the object he had been shown been artifacts it would make sense. But a lost manuscript would only have priceless status if it were known to exist, and what he possessed wasn't known to exist. Dr. Greek went through many of the high profile cases and trials of antiquities dealers and there was no trace led Back to HADES.
The second possibility was that HADES represented some quasi government or covert business entity. This seemed the most likely of scenarios, but also the most difficult. HADES wasn't an acronym of any kind. It was not listed amongst the registry of government agencies nor was it licensed to do business in the United States. However, after some research into international monetary schemes: laundering, off shore accounts, shell companies, etc. It was clear a company could exist, completely hidden from view. Still, it was a reasonable idea so he continued research, merely looking up other possibilities as well.
He also scoured the literature of conspiracy theory. Maybe someone, somewhere along the line had noticed too many disjointed facts to not be perplexed, and discovered some shadow known as HADES. Research led nowhere: he found an endless collection of stories about the Illuminati, the Free Masons, alien life forms, the Knights Templar, and Jewish banking conspiracies.
He'd never really had an enormous faith in these kinds of things. A secret passed through the generations need only fail one generation for that secret to be lost forever. A secret organization need only one dedicated whistle blower to risk complete exposure. So imagining giant shadow organization lasting throughout the generations to be the all controlling source of manipulation of all of people's lives, though amusing at first, grew increasingly tedious. It seemed more than anything that these ideas were psychological defense mechanisms to avoid at what really controlled every day life: the church, the state, and the rich. But if there were mere rumors about HADES amongst these complex mystery schemes it would be a start. He hadn't read a word.
There was one final explanation on Dr. Greek's mind, which he also saved for last. That HADES was literal: either the Greek god or the Greek underworld. The documents provided to Dr. Greek shouldn't have existed, and yet HADES supplied them to him. Could it be that he was failing to find a natural mechanism because there was a supernatural mechanism?
This was a leap Dr. Greek had been unable to make. For one, it didn't really solve anything. If the cause was supernatural he'd have no way to research it, and hence he would be stuck with what he had right now: nothing. He didn't really want to deal with the position that after months of research he knew nothing. Moreover, had supernatural causes intervened at times in Greek history, he would also have to admit that, despite the decades of study and teaching of Greece, he didn't really know his subject. It also meant that to progress on his quest no research could help, he would have to wait for another anomaly.
As Dr. Greek's search continued so did he increase in skill forging academic papers. To write as if lacking knowledge and appear to authentic in mistakes one knew to be mistakes in advance began to be a sort of game for Dr. Greek. It was interesting, after having written 40-50 papers, to finally receive an assignment from a fellow forger.
The assignment was simple: translation of a page of a document that in fact didn't exist. It was a supposed dialogue by Plato. In the dialogue Socrates slowly discusses a version of the story of Orpheus and Eurydice: Orpheus plays a lyre with such skill he convinces Persephone to let his lover Eurydice leave the underworld to rejoin him, provided that he not turn back to look at her until she had left the underworld. Orpheus agrees, makes his way out of Hades, and in his relief turns to his lover only to realize that she had still not left the underworld.
The story held many of the typical trapping of Plato: having Socrates lead a dialogue that the historical Socrates probably never had. Socrates had almost all of the lines and at times the other characters, supposing to represent other points of view, became yes men to Socrates' (Plato's) ideas. It was an amusing imitation, with Plato trying to make the case for leading a moral life despite the existence of death.
The forgery, was in fact, too good. This wasn't a known dialogue of Plato's, nor was this a dialogue known to be missing. Why would a student send a text like this to be translated? Was HADES involved in giving him yet another document? Dr. Greek wanted to believe it, because it meant he might be able to go forward in his quest—wherever that might lead. The problem remained, however, as to what to do with the paper. Would men in black suits come to take it away? Unlikely—this was a computer file. He had to trace the sender in some way.
He was not particularly skilled in computers, but a unpolished undergrad translation wasn't going to take much time. When Dr. Greek began looking inside the architecture of the every day Internet (ISP's, IP addresses, file transfer protocol, etc.) things seemed hopeless complicated. But as he searched the tricks of various hackers and computer ne'er-do-wells things became considerably simple. He could simply set up his own site that would redirect that student to the actual site for placing the file, but he would put a basic traffic cookie on it. This would let him observe the browser history of whoever requested the translation—provided the cookie remained. Traffic cookies weren't exactly the most difficult to discover and remove. The computer might not even accept the cookie, and a redirecting page so simple wouldn't be too subtle either. But there seemed no other way forward.
There seemed to be one variable in the equation. It was a naïve student—may have gotten the damn text from some other Greek site, and the tracking cookie would be the start of a search for the paper's offer. Otherwise, the other party would likely find his efforts pathetic.
He tried to go about his business until the time came for the download, but that proved nigh impossible. By now he'd understood the antiquities black market that he could make a fortune if he had the contacts. His morass of corporate earnings reports and “censored by the mainstream media” fluoride studies just couldn't hold his attention. He founded himself online, gorging travel literature of modern day Greece where ancient Thrace—the homeland of Orpheus—once existed.
He read of the region's endless incursions western incursions: the Turks, the Bulgars, and the Russians who all left a part of their empires behind. Already he pictured sea side villas and old world homes with streets to narrow for cars. His mouth watered a bit at the idea of a pomegranate—a Greek pomegranate, which he'd not had for over a decade. Juice from concentrate was no substitute.
Dr. Greek got up from his desk. Ordinarily in this mood he'd sit to grade papers—that always made the time disappear. He thought perhaps he'd go out to a pool hall or a bowling alley. He didn't really care for either, but he'd grown accustomed to them. You hung around and drank beer, said what you needed for polite decorum and then zoned on some arbitrarily decided rules regarding circular objects. Dr. Greek really hadn't much skill in sports requiring fine motor control and frequently embarrassed himself but it was the only way he could mingle. He now looked back at those boring faculty parties with regret. But it was something to do when the mind recoiled from reading. So Dr. Greek went to the local alley, bowled three games without scoring over 100, and returned to see if his simple scheme had worked.