The Etruscan

The Etruscan

The Etruscan

The Etruscan

Excerpt

I, LARS TURMS the immortal, awakened to spring and saw that the land had once again burst into bloom.

I looked around my beautiful dwelling, saw the gold and silver, the bronze statues, the red-figured vases and the painted walls. Yet I felt no pride, for how can one who is immortal truly possess anything?

From among the myriad precious objects I took up a cheap clay vessel and for the first time in many years poured its contents into my palm and counted them. They were the stones of my life.

Then I returned the vessel with its pebbles to the feet of the goddess and struck a bronze gong. Servants entered silently, painted my face, hands and arms sacred red and clothed me in the sacred robe.

Because I did what I did for my own sake and not for my city or my people, I did not let myself be borne on the ceremonial litter but walked on my own feet through the city. When people saw my painted face and hands they stepped aside, children paused in their games, and a girl by the gate ceased playing her pipes.

I stepped out of the gate and descended into the valley along the same path that I once had followed. The sky was a radiant blue, birdsong echoed in my ears and the doves of the goddess cooed. The people toiling in the fields paused respectfully at sight of me, then turned their backs once more and continued their work.

I did not choose the easy road to the holy mountain, that which was used by the stonecutters, but the sacred stairs flanked by painted wooden pillars. They were steep stairs and I ascended them backward, looking down on my city the while, but although I stumbled many times, I did not fall. Even my attendants, who would have steadied me, were afraid . . .

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