RELEVANT TEXTS - SACRED SYMBOLS


Part Two
CHAPTER TWO

When the Chaos Stirs

He looks at the packed lecture hall and a chill runs through his blood. All these people will crucify me in a little while, he tells himself. They will rush without thinking to tear me limb from limb. These people, these people who do not know me, but will need to throw my body to the vultures. And I, who know that, I who am afraid of the pain, I, the two-cent Prometheus, am here to tell the truth.
Because I can no longer keep from telling it. I am trapped.

I am the innocent man who has met Fate in his path.

There is only the shrill voice of Herman Sotiriou in the dead silence. And the strange symbols of the Sacred Chart, identical to those inscribed on the Emerald Pillar. There lay the secrets of immortality, perhaps written by a divine hand. The secret herbs that Asclepius and Machaon and Polyeidos and Christ used, each of them from a different path, to effect cures and to raise the dead. But he said he would not reveal those things. He said he would keep those for himself—and perhaps for his crime ring. That unbounded power he wanted only for himself.

He clenches his fists. I won’t let you, scoundrel.

So great is the tension, the anguish, the fear, the anger, that he feels the shudders pouring over his body like a fever. Shudders, and sweat, and chills.

I must stand up… now, I must stand up now and stop the bastard… and yet he does not do it. He does not dare. In a minute. In the next minute I will stand up… and his feet are nailed to the floor.

He is raving within. They will take me away in handcuffs… I am lost…lost, and his mind slips… If he does not speak up now, he will never again speak up. And he knows that. Because after the presentation, no one will believe that it was the product of theft. After the presentation Sotiriou will triumph, so that no one ever, no one… Now, I must do it now… and he cannot. He cannot move even his little finger…. And that dream of the night before suddenly blended into his thoughts. His palms are moist and his breathing heavy. Pavlos and Kladas are silent. They are shaken, like the entire audience, by what they see on the screen. By what they are hearing.

The dream. The dream of the previous night tormented him. His cliff. For years, he had not dreamed of the cliff he would climb as a child to see the carvings hidden at the top. Since his childhood he had not seen that dream, and then, last night he was a child, climbing it again. He was climbing up high, scrambling, anguished, but he could not; he was sliding down like Sisyphos, as he did when he was a child. Until, in the end, the cliff itself began to crumble, and blood flowed down to his feet. The heart of the cliff melted as if it was his own heart.

Why, why this dream now? His anguish peaks.

Why me? Why me? He wants to shout once again. But it is not the moment. Suddenly, he hears wild applause and he is afraid. Is it over? Is the presentation ended?

He looks around to understand what is happening. No, fortunately, it has not ended yet. The wild applause was because he had reached the seventh parchment page of the Sacred Chart, where the cornerstones of immortality were—building blocks, in unchanging order, which served as a unit of natural selection and which the high-ranking criminal Herman intended to keep for himself. A madness comes over him. Two more parchment pages remained in the Sacred Chart—nine in all—and perhaps he would not talk about those either, because they contained the most important secrets, the methods that bring life to its immortality.

All these things he had read in Avgoustinos’ article, which contained all the scientific substantiation provided by contemporary cellular biology. He had found some of them in the manuscripts of Narkissos Mavroleon. It was clear that Avgoustinos was continuing the work of his father, he reflected quickly. And in his panic he sensed the same sadness that he was unable to understand the research, as he had never taken a course in the department of biology. He did not know, let us say, what thymini and guanini represented, and what the alphabet of four letters signified with its encoded orders of “beginning” and “end” that gave each individual his or her uniqueness. A uniqueness that now aims at conquering eternal time.

And now, the clever Herman Sotiriou wanted to appropriate this monumental effort of genius entirely for himself.

I will not let you, you angular-faced riff-raff.
I say, even if it costs me my life.
You are more powerful, but I am not afraid of you.
Nor will I let you commit sacrilege.
Merchant of human pain.
You will be consuming my being and I will be proclaiming my madness.
Because that is what I want to do.
He is terrified by his own thoughts.
His fists are clenched and he is sweating.
At this point, I have only the way forward, he says aloud, to hear it.
And he stands up.

He appears very tall; or he feels very tall.
All eyes turn immediately toward him and watch.
Sh…is heard all around. How does he dare interrupt?
He moves forward steadily. His expression serious. Serious and also harsh. Determined. And he is not shaking; he is not shaking any longer. Fear has turned into strength. And he does not let his anger show. Calm. “As if ready for a long time…”
He stands in the middle of the packed auditorium. And Sotiriou is at a loss. He is the one sweating now. And he immediately nods toward his henchmen. But Adamantios Lampidis who understood more than Prometheus had said a short time before, imposes order.
His voice is stern:
“Let him speak…”
There is dead silence now.
Prometheus stands before the center of the huge screen and his voice is clear, a voice pierced by all the wayward centuries of human suffering.
“Out of respect for the toil and genius of those who have sacrificed their life for today’s revelation, I must tell you that…”

There is a disturbance, and he is frightened. He is in a rush to pronounce the substantive part: that the research was stolen and that Sotiriou will market it for his personal gain, but something is happening and he does not know what. He sees his step-father and the son who are moving threateningly toward him. Then he sees Iris faint. He tries to utter the essential phrase. But what is happening is beyond him. He looks up.
Tabor is coming toward him. He is walking alone--an erect elderly bearing--and his austere appearance evokes awe, he walks directly toward him, approaches him. His blind eyes are looking at him now. Then he turns his head and looks at Sotiriou, and the latter is shaken. He, he who had not hesitated to murder for this research, is shaken. And the entire audience is speechless now. What is a monk doing in this scientific gathering?
And blind…. He is blind… Whispers everywhere.
Again there is silence. A fragile silence, ready to shatter into a thousand pieces like sharp glass.
And Prometheus hurries to speak. Now, now that there is silence. And he takes the microphone.
“He stole this research… what you saw… not one word is his own… he stole it from Avgoustinos Mavroleon, who worked for years to decode the symbols, with the help of the monks… he also stole the Sacred Chart from the monastery of Saint Porphyrios, so that together with the international crime ring of which he is a part he could use this ancient knowledge selfishly. Or worse, market it. Because that is what he will do. But we will not let him. These treasures belong to every man… these treasures represent the end of pain and disease for every man… and I sent the text of the research in its entirety to the journal The Gene… Before long… it will be the possession of everyone…”
He sees Herman Sotiriou who is angrily rushing forward to attack him and is being restrained by a few men. He is shaking now. He looks at the audience which is ready to explode. He looks at his step-father and the latter’s son who are approaching him threateningly. He looks at the hard angular faces that are taking up positions of attack. And in the midst of all that he looks at his professor, Adamantios Lampidis, who is smiling in a curious way.
Sotiriou is now protesting that this is all lies and he shouts as loud as he can for order. But impossible. And enraged and unrestrainable, he again moves toward Prometheus. The latter pushes him away and steps back to gain time.
He is not finished. He has not finished saying all he had to say. And the anguish is exhausting him; he cannot breathe. He looks around the room; the disturbance is mounting, frustration, people gesturing and shouting. And he has not finished. There is something more he must say, and he does not remember. He has forgotten something significant. And the floor is giving way on one side, like a cliff, he feels that he will fall, that he will be carried down by the cliff before all eyes, he will collapse right there on the floor that is giving way, and he tries to hold on to something, somewhere, somewhere, and he sees an arm stretching toward him, an arm covered with a black cassock and in his shock he realizes that it is the hand of the monk Tabor.
He clutches it to his breast and makes a last effort to remember the significant thing he had to say. And he must hurry because he does not have much time; the angular faces are almost upon him, and the ceiling is falling now, the ceiling is falling on him.
The voice of Tabor brings him back. He says one word, only one:
“Blessed…”
But he does not understand. And he becomes angry. In that minute particle of time he wonders where the good man saw the blessing. And the thought passes through his mind that this is the fourth time he has doubted the monk. But he has no time for that. He tries to take a breath. One more; one more breath. Some men are pushing the monk. Pushing him roughly, ready to trample him. And he sees Nikolas rush up to lead him out.
Only a few moments have passed. Events are unfolding like lightning, and he feels that he is dying, that his life was over. He is anguished--to have the time to utter what he had forgotten. That significant thing.
And he is sinking; his weakened body is sinking now. All his life is lost. He wants to cry but he cannot. Not yet. He wants to remember what he had forgotten, but his mind is blank. One moment more… half a moment… everything is over, he feels it.
But no; in that chaotic state, he sees his professor, Adamantios Lampidis, who stands up. It is clear that he has been affected by what is happening. And in a loud voice that rises above the din, he looks Prometheus in the eye and asks him:
“Why did not Avgoustinos Mavroleon himself come to speak?”
He quickly recovers his clarity of mind. Recovers his calm.
That was what he wanted to say; that was what he had forgotten. And he smiles. In that pandemonium in that murderous hour, he was able to smile. And Iris, who is before him, now looks at him, like a lioness.
“They murdered him…” she cries out.
“He did not come because they murdered him, he repeats, in order to steal his research. And I will prove that...”
He did not have time to say anything else. They trampled him. On the spot where he stood. Before the shocked eyes of the audience they trampled him, while at that same moment Nikolas was dragging Iris away from the angry crowd. They beat him to a pulp. All the angular faces bent over him and like conjurers removed him from the auditorium. And as they were dragging him down the half-darkened aisle, he could hear Sotiriou shouting:
“I beg your pardon for this unfortunate incident… He is a student with a recurring mental disability… I am sorry, I am sorry… Here are his father and brother, and they are willing to attest to that… I was the victim of robbery… I… we can continue… shame, shame… even the monks came to entrap me… those God-possessed hypocrites… instead of being grateful to me for bringing renown to their monastery and bestowing value on their neglected parchments…”
In vain.
Doubt had fractured the boundless admiration. One by one, the guests got up and left. And Sotiriou was rabid. He foamed at the mouth. What he feared was before him. And he was twice as rabid that he had not got rid of him when there was still time. He saw the step-father and his son, who were standing next to him. They had the same thought: they did not get rid of him when they had the chance, and now they would lose the house, too.
“We can prove that he is not right in his mind…,” they were shouting.
But no one was listening to them any longer. The fact that Adamantios Lampidis, the distinguished professor whom everyone respected, supported Prometheus with his stance had unsettled them. And what remained now was a vast curiosity. A curiosity that was growing into suspicion: why did he wish to conceal the most significant secrets of the Sacred Chart? Might Prometheus be telling the truth?
While they held him down, awaiting the police—his head was touching the cement, and he spat blood—he heard Ioannis and Nikolas pass by with Iris. And he was calmed. It was madness for her to speak, total madness.
Then he heard the angular faces speaking among themselves. “Antonio… be careful…,” said one. “protect Diedrich…,” said another. And in the prevailing panic, he thought he heard the voice of the asinine son, “hey, do him in; you are late…”
When chaos stirs, nothing can stop madness.
They came from the newspapers and asked to interview him, but could not find him anywhere.
He heard them, as he was bent over and spitting blood. Footsteps of reporters and photographers in the aisles. They were looking for him with unbridled frenzy. But no one knew, they said.
Only on the next day did they learn.


 

Part Two
CHAPTER THREE

The Unavertible Present

The aged Tabor was on the floor of the Byzantine chapel, arms outstretched, his cheek against the cold marble, his body forming a cross. There he remained all night and the entire following day, a black living cross, and he prayed to avert the disaster that was coming. The disaster that he saw approaching with stony steps; he saw it, dark and unavertible, and thought that he could contain it with prayer, with the deep prayer that dissolves the body; but impossible. His prayer was not being heard, it seemed, so overpowering and immovable was that which was happening, which would have Prometheus in jail and the monastery tested with profoundest ridicule.

And he was terrified.

Chills flowed through his blood and he felt insignificant.

No prayer could move that unavertible present which held them more and more captive, ready to hurl them into annihilation. What power was hidden in this disaster that he could not control with his own power of good? Avgoustinos had already been murdered, Prometheus was in chains, the treasures of the monastery ransacked. Or perhaps not? Perhaps those treasures had been preserved? Had Avgoustinos and Prometheus given their blood to preserve them?

On the third day, the monk Ioannis and the elder Porphyrios lifted him up from the marble floor of the Byzantine chapel; he was stiff. It took him three days to see the future he said. And with a voice that was pierced by all the waves of solitude, he uttered only one word:

“Justice.”

The monk Ioannis and the elder Porphyrios did not understand exactly what he meant, but they did not inquire further. They provided their own interpretation, that finally justice would befall all that was happening, that perhaps the acts of Sotiriou would come under the judgment of justice.

On that third day, the monk Ioannis took with him the entire nest-egg of the monastery and went down to Nikolas so that the two of them could find a way to help Prometheus. Until that moment he knew nothing, no newspapers reached the monastery and he did not know. When he arrived at the stable, he found Nikolas beside himself.

The newspapers were spouting their poison. They were asking to speak with Prometheus, but he had been isolated and no one knew where he was. The step-father and his son had used every means to have him placed in solitary confinement. At the same time they were feeding the newspapers material that made him out to be mentally disturbed, “a criminal personality who had by diabolical methods stolen the research data from Herman Sotiriou’s computer in order to claim the glory for himself…” And that “the truth will come out and the distinguished researcher will be vindicated…”

The first question the monk Ioannis asked when he arrived was where he was being held.

Nikolas explained that he had gone to the police three times to inquire, and no one would tell him. “When the trial takes place,” they said to him icily, even as he insisted.

“Let’s go once more… and we will not leave until they tell us…”

Ioannis was experiencing psychological states that he feared to analyze. It was the first time he was experiencing passion. The suppressed zones of his soul, untrodden for a lifetime, awakened unexpectedly and upset him. He sensed that this passion he felt to help Prometheus was a transformation of his secret love for Avgoustinos. A transformation of his secret passion. And nothing would stop him.

Passion.

Passion, forbidden by all the canons of his monastic life, brought him abruptly face to face with what was most precious in his soul: his love for Avgoustinos. A love hallowed by prayer and vigils. Transformed into prayer and vigil. A love that awakened like a thunderbolt and drove him mad.

“From the age of ten he was in my hands, you see… I formed his soul and… and his child’s body matured in my hands…”

Nikolas was startled.

“Are you talking about Avgoustinos?”

“We must find the murderers… everything is now coming into focus…”

“At this moment we must help Prometheus, he says to him curtly. They may murder him too and then the truths for which he sacrificed himself will be lost… those men are unhesitating, they will distort the facts…”

Ioannis was thoughtful and sad. He remembered the look of the elder Tabor on the morning when he went to take leave of him, to come to Athens. A piercing, austere look. Did he know? Did he see? He bent over to kiss the coarse-hair garment, and the elder laid his hand on him.

“Go, he said, the cross is for everyone…”

Tears well up in his eyes now. It is the first time this has happened to him since his childhood. Tears, tears. And he touches them with the palm of his hand, as if they were precious. Pain that lives is precious. His soul is in pain. His soul is alive.

“Then let’s go find Prometheus…,” he says.

And they set out.

Only on the next day did they reach his cell, after they had bribed all the guards. A damp cellar of isolation. And he was shouting from within, I want to talk… I want to see a lawyer… no one listened to him. No one yet.

They found him against the iron door, his fingers bloody and his face furrowed with wrinkles. When he saw them, he no longer had the strength to speak. For three days and three nights he had been shouting. Then he fell on the iron door and remained there.

He looked up at them, and only one word came from his dry lips:

“Water…”

Their first act was to give the newspapers his appeal: he was asking the help of the State; the help of the lawyers’ society; the help of the university community. He was asking for the help of the official church. I am innocent, he wrote. All that I said was simply the truth. Because the treasures of the monastery belong to every man and they cannot be sold by one criminal type. Those treasures will liberate mankind from pain and disease. And that is a gift—a gift that comes from the depths of time, from the depths of the human drama.

No one responded. No one, no one. Only a certain film producer, Nikolay Romanoff, asked to see him. No one knew what he wanted. He had communicated with Nikolas and the monk Ioannis and said that he wanted to speak with him. On the same day that Prometheus’ appeal was published in the press, Pavlos and Kladas went to visit him. They were shaken. They could not believe what they were seeing: an unrecognizable Prometheus, covered with dried blood, fresh blood flowing from his wounds, a Prometheus who, perhaps, differed in no respect from the mythical Prometheus whose liver was eaten by the wild eagles of Zeus.

On that same day his professor, Adamantios Lampidis, visited him. And he could say nothing. He only remembered the incident with Herman Sotiriou in his office, on the day when Prometheus was the victim of robbery. At the time when he was begging to work so that he could finish his studies. He remembered the exact moment when he had thought that this boy with the clear glance and shining genius would bring about something good. A thought that seemed prophetic to him at the time.

“In court I will help you as much as I am able…,” he said to him.

Prometheus found that very vague and bowed his head. Then he said, “I will never get to trial. And Lampidis was shocked.

“Why do you say that?”

He said nothing more. All indications were that they wanted him out of the way. That it was a matter of days. And he bowed his head even more, as if accepting his fate.

He thanked Lampidis for coming to see him and sank into silence. They would kill him, yes, the thought has become rooted in his mind. One more accident… so insignificant for them. And the only thing that comforted him was that he had time to send the entire research article with the precious genetic secrets to the journal The Gene.

Pavlos and Kladas, coordinating their efforts with those of Nikolas and the monk Ioannis, did not rest all day; they knocked on doors of newspapers and agencies, seeking support, but they had now lost hope. They, too, believed that it was a matter of days before he would be killed, so great was the hatred of the crime ring. Also, many political strings were pulled by the step-father and his asinine son. They succeeded in turning the power of the State against the unfortunate Prometheus. “He is an ambitious student, disturbed in his mind, who dared to commit sacrilege and to steal the valuable research of the distinguished scientist…,” they said on the news broadcasts.

Nothing would save him; that was clear. And Prometheus told them not to come again, to disappear, so that his own misfortune would not drag them down.

But early the next morning, they were again at the jail. And this time they met him in the visiting hall and not in the subterranean damp cell with the iron door, which they could reach only after paying off all the guards. Professor Adamantios Lampidis had arranged that. He had spoken with the Director of Prisons and succeeded in having Prometheus removed from isolation, where he was being held as if he was a hardened criminal.

Pavlos and Kladas tried to give him courage. They, above all, knew how innocent he was. How he had been entrapped by Avgoustinos himself… had been entrapped by the metaphysical, however crazy that sounded.

Today, they told him, the renowned producer Nikolay would be coming to see him; he had produced two important films with strange titles: “The Memory of Water” and “The Earth Mother.” Prometheus was amazed. He had seen “The Memory of Water.” It was a curious story based on the novel of an unknown author, titled “With the Storm Lamp.” The author had centered her story on certain supernatural phenomena that occurred on an island. He and Pavlos had seen the film on a Sunday afternoon and he remembers how impressed he had been. And now he wonders whether the film bore some relationship to his own adventure. Did the supernatural element in the film have some correspondence with the crazy, supernatural events occurring in his own life? And he waited now, impatiently, to see Nikolay Romanoff. As he recalled, he had signed the film with the pseudonym “Prometheus.” And it had a subtitle: “The Stone that Speaks.”

Something good will happen to him today. He lies down on the black floor of the cell, and curls up; so great is the pain of the wounds on his body from the kicks the angular-faced men inflicted on him. And his eyes close. He wants to sleep but is afraid to. And every few minutes he starts. He thinks that they will kill him while he sleeps, so shaken are his nerves. And he tries to find a position that is less painful for his tortured body—his wounded body that no doctor or nurse has come to treat. And tears well up in his eyes now. He wants to cry for all that is happening to him. He wants to say: I am innocent.

I am innocent!
And his eyes are heavy with sleep.
I am innocent!
In-no-cent.

From every corner of the dirty cell, from all the moldy walls covered with thousands of graffiti comes Avgoustinos, holding his computer. He is wearing the same black garment with the stand-up collar, like a monk’s cassock, and his hair is pulled back and tied with a black cord.

He hands him the computer, “It’s yours now, he says to him, you will find the heart of the cliff… but watch out for the streams of blood; they must not be washed away by the waters… the blood will show you the way…”

The guard woke him as he unlocked the iron door with an awful noise.

He sprang up, drenched in sweat, “where am I?” it was the first time he had slept so deeply since the day he arrived.

The guard felt sorry for this crazy student who dared to take on the international crime ring. He considered him to be a romantic and a fool. Of course the newspapers said something else, but he, with the experience of an old fox, could smell dirty dealings. And he liked very much the little sums that the prisoner’s visitors placed in his pocket.

“A visit…,” he said to him, and pushed him roughly, lest his sympathy be visible to the other detainees watching from the cells opposite.

In the small closed visiting room an unfamiliar tall man waited.

He was wearing a tight black garment and a vest, also black, embroidered along the edges. And his hair was long like Avgoustinos’, curly and pulled back.

What can this renowned producer want with me, Prometheus wondered, and, he moved, curious, toward him.