The Gardens of Arcadia

 

Arcadia. The Garden of the Gods of Olympus. Once they walked its sylvan paths, sipping Ambrosia, plucking the Golden Apples of Immortality, drinking the wines of Bacchus, and filling the arboreal groves with their laughter. Hera plotted vengeance against her husband, Zeus in dusky glades, Aphrodite seduced many a mortal, even a God or two, in its sweet smelling bowers, lovers embraced in candle-lit forested walkways. Ares, Lord of War rested here after bloody battle and Ceres sowed her seeds of plenty in its lush farmland.  Satyrs and Centaurs gambolled in the sunlit groves, druids and sprites tended to the trees and flowers. Even mortals, those chosen of the Gods, attended the revels. Everywhere life blossomed with joyous abandon.

But Pan plays his pipes no more, Diana hunts not in the deep forests-green, dryads and nymphs dance no longer in dappled moonlit glades to the music of the spheres.

Silence reigns over the weed infested garden walkways. Ancient trees, long untended, clog the forest trails, roots rise up from the ground to topple the statues, fountains and sundials, cracking open the conservatories and summer houses. The babbling brooks and streams have long since dried up, nothing sleeps in their beds now but dessicated earth and bleached bones.  Its bathing pools and lily gilded ponds are filled with rot and decay. The bowers and arbours are overgrown with the thick, fibrous vines that once yielded up the grapes that Bacchus used to make his celestial wines that were drunk with joyous abandon in every nook and corner. Now they twist and turn, choking the life out of the land.

In its wilder regions, the Sons of Lycaon wander the deep forests, wolves by night and men by day. These werewolves feed on the unwary and the lost. It is said that King Lycaon himself, father of wolves, still lives somewhere, in the deepest, darkest dens of the forest.

Elsewhere, Arcadia is not entirely abandoned. Faerie folk can still be found in the weed choked gardens, sprites too, though their magic is fading. A druid or two can still be seen tending to half-forgotten, woodland shrines, perhaps a wanderer may catch a glimpse of a centaurs’ hind quarters as it flees into the safety of the deep forest or the mournful sigh of a lonely dryad may still be heard in its green glades, but mostly, Arcadia sleeps.

Chiron, greatest of the Centaurs, tutor of Hercules and Achilles, and the very god of medicine himself, Asklepios, once walked Arcadia’s leafy trails, and galloped across its verdant fields.  But where is he now? Does he slumber somewhere in an abandoned stable, lost and forgotten? Can mortal men free him from his long sleep of oblivion and restore him to greatness? Only time will tell.

The Gods  may sleep but Vulcan will not. For what is to be done? It is now the Age of Man, so it must be the mortals, feeble though they may be, pitiful even, to whom the task must fall… Though it breaks immortal hearts, Arcadia must be given[1] to those who would restore it to its glorious, arboreal splendour.

 


 
[1](Vulcan uses the Olympian word for ‘given’ here which translates in human terms as ‘sold’. This can be a traditional sacrifice of a goat and suchlike, but these days, Vulcan prefers a bank transfer)