The next day, Hermes returned to earth, and sought out Prometheus, who had built a small fire, and was busy roasting a haunch of meat. The sky had darkened as Apollo’s chariot had long since vanished to the west, and dusk had settled over the land. The enticing smell surprised Hermes, who’d to this moment had never encountered it previous, excepting on the battlefield.
“What happened to the beast?” he inquired.
“A sacrifice for my coming to their village. They slew it, and allowed me first choice of the meat. This haunch was my portion and the rest was stripped and eaten by the village.”
Hermes looked at the meat, suspended on a wood stake over the glowing embers of Prometheus’ fire, sizzling and dripping juices onto the hot coals. Flat stones kept the fire from igniting the surrounding grass. “What made you decide to sear it with the heat?” Prometheus shrugged.
“It was the war. I noticed that the bodies seared by Zeus and Apollo took much longer to breed maggots in their flesh than the dead who had been speared.” Prometheus closed his eyes as he remembered. “I had been wounded when I stumbled upon the recent battle. I’d been wounded on a mission that Zeus had used to divide the Titans forces. The smell was awful. The rotted meat and coagulated blood were a stench that made me gag to cross that battlefield.
The animals that were there, were busy consuming the scorched bodies first. So I thought to see why and roasted a bit of horse. The taste changed. It was altogether more savory than the dried strips of meat, or the fresh raw chunks. I have to admit I prefer it over raw.”
The fire hissed and popped, flaring every so often as a thick drop of fat fell and caught fire. the red glow had a comforting warmth as the two gazed up at the ceiling of stars in the night. Hermes took his floppy Petasos and laid it on the ground. He lowered Caduceus onto the hat, then lay down. He lolled on his back next to Prometheus. “It was discoveries like your fire, that I miss from the war.”
“You said that mid-day. Clearly, you miss it.” Prometheus sat up, then picked up a stick. He idly tapped the roasting meat, then nodded and grabbed the meat off the stake it had been impaled on. He quickly dropped the hissing haunch on a flat rock, then lay back down to gaze at the stars while the meat cooled. “I’ve wondered too, about the humans.” Hermes groaned.
“You mean that you are fascinated by their resemblance to us.” Prometheus nodded. “Zeus asked and I answered that making our allies, the myrmidons and humans, look like us, it would sow confusion in the Titans. I know that my kin have difficulty identifying individuals, so it made sense to compound that weakness.” Hermes nodded then gazed at the haunch of meat. “May I try some?” Prometheus smiled. “Certainly. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised.”
* * * * *
The pure columns of the Great Hall of Olympus bounced echoes of footsteps and muttered conversations throughout the room and the surrounding halls. The gods walked quietly, discussing the latest edicts from Zeus amongst themselves. Hermes strode away, his purposeful steps matched by the long, easy strides of the Titan, Prometheus.
“Zeus is determined to maintain this peace.” Hermes sounded agitated. Prometheus gazed down at his friend. The floppy Petasos hid his features from the taller Titan, but Prometheus could tell by the stiffened walk and hurried stride Hermes did not enjoy this latest conclave of the gods.
“He must constantly shift to maintain the status quo. Otherwise the edicts would become too rigid, and create oppression rather than peace.”
“He’s doing that already” Hermes answered quietly. “Everything seems aimed at restraining the humans. They were our allies in the war, and this is how we repay their efforts?”
“It’s not fair, no. It is practical. Humans are modeled after the gods, with many of the same drives all mixed together. Zeus wants their lives to depend upon the gods. The edicts are in place to foster this relationship.” Prometheus’ face scrunched up for a moment. “And language.” Hermes pushed his Petasos off his head, and turned his gaze to the tall titan.
“Language. Hmm. I see. No one knows any different language, and so no one can say anything that Zeus cannot understand.”
Prometheus nodded. “Or hide, since his interpreter knows all languages.”
Hermes steps slowed as his mind turned that statement over, looking at possibilities. “Perhaps it’s time to bend the edicts, just a little. I wouldn’t be breaking them, just making a few changes so that humans can barter more effectively back and forth.”