Can the solution be this simple, he wonders? Why could not one of the gods think of this? It would create the perfect moral environment on earth without them having to meddle.
It would leave the gods free to attend to bigger problems like wars and famine.
He knows that the assigned task would be an arduous one. The creative process would drain him physically and mentally. Dolus would have to take all the menial tasks upon him. He needed to be free to accomplish the crown of his life’s work. It must be done to save all humanity from the dark pit of chaos and destruction.
A light breeze touches Prometheus’ skin and he realizes that Veritas has left his side. Suddenly everything looks cold and lifeless. The lake, willow trees and reeds disappear under the dense blanket of mist. In his sleep Prometheus sighs and turns around.
At the break of dawn, Dolus carefully wakes his master and holds out a tray of fresh fruit and creamy milk.
“Thanks”, mumbles Prometheus and wipes the last traces of sleep from his eyes with the back of his hand. “If there are no interruptions today we will be able to fire the statue by this evening. Have you finished the preparations yet?”
“Yes, master everything has been done. I have taken the cover off and sprinkled the statue with water. The kiln’s heat should reach its peak by this evening. ”
Dolus battles to keep the rising jealousy and anger from his voice. Prometheus hardly notices as he is enveloped in planning the next step. He is already visualizing the firing process and silently praying to the gods that no crack or mistake would inexplicably turn his creation to dust.
Dolus has lost his humanity in Prometheus’ eyes and has merely become a means to an end. He hands Dolus the tray without acknowledging his presence. In his mind’s eye he is at the goal post and Veritas is complete. He combs his fingers through his hair and quickly washes his face in the blue earthenware dish on the table in the corner of the room. The water drips cold and refreshingly from his face. His mind needs to be alert as sleep will be an unlikely event today. The statue will have to be watched closely during the firing process. There are so many variables that need to be taken into account. He shakes his head to get rid of the cobwebby nightmares clinging to him and quickly dons his overcoat, ready for what the day may bring.
Without waiting for Dolus to follow, Prometheus hurries to his studio. The room is already excruciatingly hot despite the fact that the peaks outside his window are still covered in snow. He critically appraises his previous work, keeping in mind that there is still a lot of smoothing to be done to get the correct skin texture.
Dolus has already retreated to his dark corner and watches the method by which his master’s thought processes take visual form in the clay. In his mind he too is smoothing the clay to velvet uniformity and the statue’s skin appears lifelike, glowing and warm to the touch.
For the next few hours Prometheus works in silence and Dolus is lost in dreams of creating a better statue. Both are rudely plucked from their individual reveries by a peremptory knock at the heavy wooden door. Dolus hurries to open it lest Prometheus starts yelling, only to find the inimitable figure of Hermes impatiently tapping his winged feet.
Without waiting for Dolus’ dour greeting, Hermes authoritatively announces that Zeus has summoned Prometheus to an emergency meeting at the temple. Speed being of the essence when summoned by Zeus, Prometheus only pauses to wipe his hands, pluck off his soiled overcoat and leave hasty instructions for Dolus to cover and wet the statue, before leaving with Hermes.
Dolus anxiously looks out the door, but his master and Hermes are already barely pinpricks against the glaringly blue sky. He glances longingly at the glistening heap of fresh clay on the wide work bench. He can feel it giving way under his hands and becoming supple and pliant. He hurriedly wets his master’s statue, covers it carefully and allows himself the unbelievable luxury of planning an identical version of Veritas. He knows that the god’s meetings are usually eternal affairs and that Prometheus may only arrive home by late evening. Jealousy slithers coldly into his mind, rationalizing, whispering, encouraging.
Boldly he steps up to the bench, proprietarily taking the clay into his hands, cementing his future. His sly fingers mould and touch the clay with deft strokes. His instincts and the elusive dream take control and time melts into the hot cauldron of his envy filled mind. He works at a feverish pace, only succumbing to the burning sweat droplets that occasionally run into his eyes. He knows that time is running out as the light outside grows ever dimmer.
He finishes the upper body perfectly and carefully starts on the hips and thighs, smoothing the clay downwards in long, even strokes. When the ankles are identical versions of Prometheus’ statue, he stands back surveying his work. Quite by accident he glances over at the remaining clay. The realization that there is not enough left to finish the feet slams into Dolus’ body like a brutal wave of arctic sea water. A scream of anguish rips through his throat and echoes hollowly around the chamber.
At this precise moment Prometheus steps through the wooden door. Dolus nervously and timidly scampers to his shadowy corner. Prometheus’ enraged gaze burns into Dolus’ soul, making him cringe and hide his body further under the cloak of the welcoming darkness. Prometheus strides to his statue and rips the cover off. Slowly he compares the two statues in minute detail, walking back and forth repeatedly between the two.
“They are identical. How is it even possible?”
Dolus declines to answer, preferring the silence to the inevitable harsh argumentative voice of his angry master.
“My prestige will grow to enormous proportions when the rest of them see what I have been able to do. Dolus, stack extra wood in the kiln we are firing both statues!”
Dolus’ slowly realizes that Prometheus plans on taking credit for his creation as well; regardless of the skill and effort that he himself has put into it. Excruciating pain grips his chest and the loss is almost physical. A part of him has been torn and ripped asunder. One does not argue with a god, you bow and scrape, flinging your bitterness into the abyss. Dolus woodenly nods and turns to heed his master’s wishes. He has lost, and the opportunity to be a great sculptor has vanished forever. He is and will be nothing more than a slave.
Later that evening both statues were placed in the roaring kiln. When they were thoroughly baked, without a single crack to mar their alabaster skin, Prometheus infused both with life. Veritas walked the earth with measured, gentle steps, while her feetless twin stood stuck in her tracks, never moving an inch. Dolus’ forgery was later appropriately named Mendacium* and I agree with people who say that every once in a while something that is false can start off successfully, but with time Veritas, is sure to prevail.
Word count: 2627