Scene: The Terrestrial Communications room in heaven. It is prayer-time, so Zeus is sitting on a golden chair beside the hole in the floor marked PRAYERS. He removes the lid, and applies his ear to the aperture. A cool, cynical voice is heard speaking at the other end.
VOICE: Well, Zeus, I won't trouble you with the usual type of prayer. I won't ask you to make me a millionaire or a king. Such things can't be very easy for you to arrange - at any rate, you never seem to take much notice when people pray for them. But there's just one favour I'd like to ask - an extremely small one.
ZEUS [graciously]: And what is that? Your prayer shall be granted, especially if it's as moderate as you say.
VOICE: I'd just like you to answer a simple question.
ZEUS: Well, that sounds easy enough. Ask as many questions as you please.
VOICE: Look here then, Zeus - no doubt you've read Homer and Hesiod - well, is it true what they say 1 about Destiny and the Fates - that they determine the course of each man's life in advance, and there's no way out of it?
ZEUS: Perfectly true. Nothing is exempt from the Fates' control. Everything that happens is spun on their spindle, and turns out according to their original design. No alterations are allowed.
VOICE: Then when Homer himself says elsewhere,
'Lest you should die before your fated hour,' 2
and that sort of thing, he's merely talking nonsense?
ZEUS: Certainly he is. There are no exceptions to the rule of the Fates, no kinks or flaws in their threads. You see, poets