Monday, May 9, 2011

Miri - A Meeting in Alexandria (part 2)

He stopped talking, sighed in remembered anguish and gazed sadly into his ale for a long moment.  He looked around the table, taking in our silent faces, took another drink, smiled sadly and continued. 
“Ah, you think this just a tall tale.  Think me mad or a simple-minded story teller.  Think again, my friends and then think of mighty Carthage.  Ah, yes, we fought both sides there too.  Carthage challenged Rome, somewhere around the time my tribe was trying to pillage Delphi and for two hundred years after that, Carthage stood tall and proud.  But for two hundred years Rome plotted and planned, ducked and parried.  Go to Carthage now.  It’s easy to find.  Sail for North Africa and cruise along the coast towards the gates of Heracles until you come to the barren lands.  Those were once the most fertile lands in North Africa.  When Rome destroyed the city they sowed the ground for a hundred leagues around with salt!  Nothing grows there now.  Nothing lives.  Nothing will for hundreds of years, for the salt was sown deep and heavy.  It will be many generations yet before the rains wash it out, if they ever do.  Rome is not to be crossed, young sir.  You may win for a year or two, perhaps even your lifetime, though it will be a life of constant war.  Never fear though, sooner or late, Rome will return and destroy you.  The harder you beat them, the harder they will strike back at you.  Look at we Celts.  We conquered Rome, in a war lasting maybe a year.  For that a city was destroyed, her people obliterated and the Keltoi tribes scattered to the four winds.  Carthage fought Rome for 200 years and for that their entire nation was wiped off the face of the earth.”
“We Celts have fought Rome since Rome was built.  We have always fought for ourselves, but we also fought with the great Hannibal, when he crossed the Alps and nearly succeded in taking Rome from behind.  We marched with Cenomaros under Spartacus when he rallied the slaves and tried to make Rome see them as free men.  We died with Cassivellaunus when he defended Briton and we bled again with Vircingetorix at Alesia, only 72 years ago.  Alesia was the last great battle for a free Gaul.  My great grandfather fought there!  Fought and lost.  We seem to lose to Rome on a regular basis.” 
“But we have our triumphs too.  We rode with the great Alexander and helped him build his empire.  We were here in Alexandria 300 years ago when he decreed the building of this fair city.  We rode with Rome too and helped them build their empire, even though it cost us our own.  We are scattered now, tribes blown to the winds, many of us lost.  The Insubres, the Boii, the Cenomai, the Tectosages and Tolistobogii, so many others, all vanquished.  Once proud tribes and nations, gone forever, wiped from the face of the earth by the eagles of Rome.  All now bow to Caesar.
Know you that we all live in cycles.  As some go up, so must others must go down.  Epona, my beloved Goddess of the horse, once mighty, now just a fading memory, though I see shades of her here in Egypt, in sweet Isis.  Our priests were the great druids, much learned in the ways of the great earth Gods and Goddesses.  Like your rabbis they were our teachers, our judges.  They discussed philosophy, led us in worship, were our sacred holy leaders.  They gave us the lore, asked the Gods to favor us.  The Romans mocked them, as they do your rabbis, laughed at their knowledge, disparaged our Gods, distorted the words, twisted the truth to meet their own mortal needs.  Within the sacred oak groves a man could find the Gods, find peace and be granted forgiveness.  The Romans have destroyed all that.  As they did with the Greeks, they picked out the things they liked, the Gods they are comfortable with and turned the rest to dross.  The oak grove is still peaceful, but the Gods have gone, fled west.  Only in Briton now can you find the true Celt and even there Rome harries them.  Celts like me are still around, fighting for any who pays our price, but soon we’ll be gone too.  The peoples we live with will absorb us and our ways.  Our beliefs will disappear, like dust scattered on the sands of the desert.  Only our beloved horses will remain, though I suppose they too will serve Rome.”
He sighed deeply, leant his elbow on the table and propped his chin on his fist.  He seemed to have lost himself in somber revere.  No smile now.
Yoshai took a deep breath himself, rose and rested his hand on Cuchulain’ shoulder. 
“Come my friend.” he said gently.  “You have been alone for far too long.  Come with us and have a home again for a little while.”
With that he turned and walked towards the door.  I looked at Cuchulain again, offered him a small smile, then rose and followed after Yoshai.  The Celt stared into the empty ale mug for a few moments, shrugged, rose, paused a moment and then followed. 
“Another cause perhaps.” he thought.  “Another task from the Gods.  Perhaps this one will be the true one.  Gods willing, perhaps the last one.”
He followed Yoshai and me into the night of Alexandria and just like that, Cuchulain left his old life behind and joined us.

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