Tuesday, June 9, 2015

A Pin I'd Lynch

Welcome to ancient Egypt.

I am Pharaoh Werwolfe (the first through fifth, so far) and I would like to relate to you the means by which the grand march of civilization was brought to a grinding halt.
We begin our tale with one man, a simple man, an honest man, a very very stupid man. This, as you can read for yourselves, being of the refined, educated upper castes, is Anpu Tahet. Mr. Tahet is a laborer, the very first laborer as it happens to settle in my fair city
Regardless of his current activity update he is not, in fact, hauling. There is insufficient muscle available for any hauling to be going on. Our good Anpu is standing in front of a basalt stele. He cannot seem to carry it by himself but being the grim, determined sort of protagonist, he will see to no other cares until his task is done. Henceforth he will not budge from this spot. Day-in, day-out, year after year, he will neither shop nor pick up his allotment of bread from the local bakery (but don't worry, unlike priests, nobles and even pharaohs, Anpu is apparently immortal.) You can forget about him marrying. Anpu's household's satisfaction looks somewhat like this.
The overall satisfaction of citizens in my fair metropolis looks pretty good, except for one glaring red mark.
 Nearby, a row of quaint but sturdy huts remain uninhabited.

You see, the longer Anpu stands in front of the slab of basalt he can't move by himself, the less he shops and eats, and the unhappier he gets. The laborer caste, consisting in totality of our highly goal-oriented Mr. Tahet, quickly aquires an unsavory reputation for dissatisfaction, preventing any other farmers from trying their hand at laboring. Thus, Anpu will never receive the teamwork he needs to finally move that slab of rock then grab a sandwich, maybe buy himself a rug and show the world just how happy the laboring life can be. Catch-22.

Meanwhile, in front of the palace:
This is the pedestal awaiting that basalt stele to be engraved with proclamations of Pharaoh Werwolfe's grandeur.
Meanwhile, across town:
This is the temple of Ma'at awaiting a statue of same goddess to be carried in by a team of laborers.
This is a house which would be filled by a priest if only Pharaoh Werwolfe were prestigious enough to attract more literati to his service (say, by proclaiming his grandeur on a basalt stele.)

Priests in Children of the Nile provide not only the circus in the Roman panem et circenses (through shrines and temples) but also health care. An outbreak of measles and a very destructive flood later, the city's farmer and servant population takes a severe hit. Illness and existential despair run rampant. Pharaoh's prestige continues to drop. The city is now in a spiral of decay.
For lack of hands, a stone could not be moved. For lack of a stone, the word could not be spread. For lack of the word, priests could not be found. For lack of priests, pestilence ran amok and lo, the populace did fear the gods had forsaken them and fled. For lack of farmers, the harvest was poor. For lack of bread, no circuses availed.

Anpu is still standing in front of his immovable object.

Out in the desert, the foundation for my burial place stands eternally unfinished, unfinishable for lack of laborers.
You're killin' me here, Anpu, and I can't even get a worthy burial. It'll be us to the end, my friend, while the city crumbles, you and I. For how did you know, you simple genius, my lasting respect for nihilism?

"Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed"


Actually, my city did eventually recover, a couple pharaohs' worth of history later. It just took a lot of doing and some festivals to raise morale globally, and I like the story better the other way.)

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