The Hero and the Harem (Part 1)

…and here is the allegory

Every homeland has a King or Emperor or Bishop.

In my homeland, Alcoholism was Our Emperor…and I was the Hero.

"King Alcohol and his Prime Minister" circa 1820

Every Emperor needs a court over which His Power is defined. Within the Court of my Homeland, the Emperor had a Hero, a Jester and Consorts.

Everyone has a role to fill in the Court. This provided the Emperor’s Consorts someone to blame when things faded to black. There were many conflicting and confusing rules for each role in the Court.

However, the most important Rule is that the subjects must never, ever, hold the Emperor accountable.

Somewhere along the line one of the Emperor’s Consorts came to the Hero and said, your job is to make sure the Emperor is always comfortable. You are not to tell the truth under threat of punishment, no one outside the Court is to know what happens inside the walls of the Castle, your needs and wants are subservient to the Emperor’s needs and wants and when necessary you will throw yourself on the sword.

As Hero you will sacrifice your comrades, interests, identity, hopes and dreams. You live only to serve the Emperor and the Emperor’s Consorts.

…and you will never speak of the Emperor.

After many years of the Emperor causing problems with neighboring Kingdoms and both the local Merchants and Bishops the Hero, tired of the burdens He was forced to shoulder, forgot his place and called out the Emperor for all of the horribly destructive consequences He wrought on the Hero’s once beautiful homeland.

For his honesty, the Consorts punished the Hero. The Jester ridiculed him. He was hit, ostracized and shamed. The Court stole His dignity and the few honors He had hidden out of fear they would use against Him.

Still it was not enough…

The Emperor sought Him out and stripped him of the last bit of valor resulting in the poisoning of the young Hero’s soul. The Poison blinded the Hero and bound Him to the Past. The Hero no longer saw Valor in Honesty or Truthfulness. Where others saw Beauty, He saw only Opportunity. Where Nobility, He saw Naivety.  He saw no Meaning or Justice. He could not see Truth or the High Road and snuck off to Dark Corners looking for Others to absorb his poison and restore Him temporarily to something Worthwhile.

He stopped being, as he never really was. His identity was now defined only through Others. He Knew but could not Feel. He always wore Armor.

The Hero grew angry, bitter, resentful and abandoned Vision, Hope and Faith.

Loneliness became his only companion.

Within the Emperor’s Kingdom he continued to play the Hero, but He was now a shell. No life left. Broken. Empty. Fractured.

No defenses. No desire to fight back. He felt nothing and yet felt it all. He abandoned the few things and places and people who had Meaning. He sought out Appearances and not Substance.

When the Emperor slept, the Hero would sneak into surrounding Kingdoms seeking solace, purpose, identity and valor with Fair Maidens, Armies and Ale. At first, this helped. He was hailed as a friend but as time passed, and the wounds inflicted on Him by the Emperor became obvious he would find Himself alone again.

That was the true power of the Emperor’s Poison: surrounded by people yet always alone.

Finally, the day came, without fanfare, when He left the Kingdom and never went back. Freed from the presence of the Emperor, the Hero thought he was Free to Be. But the Emperor’s shadow is long and dark and haunted all the Highs and Lows of the Hero’s life. To avoid the darkness the Hero surrounded himself with Light – beautiful, laughing Nymphs. These Muses helped keep the Hero distracted but did nothing for the Poison. The beautiful Nymphs told him what he wished to hear but still it wasn’t enough and so He sought out more and more until His Harem was large with laughter, diverse in talent, rich in thought and carried much wisdom. All of them appearing as Muses for His soul. All balm in their own ways for a restless Spirit.

In exchange He gave each of them a piece of his armor hoping together they could piece Him back together and remove the Poison. In exchange He sought to be their Champion, Their Hero. He gave what He had and did what He knew.

But still…

But still, at the end of the day His only companion was Loneliness.

Muses need to be touched and loved and nourished too. Yet the Hero could not touch them – the armor separated Him. He could not Love them because He was dead. The only food was Poisoned.

At night They knew their Hero bedded only Loneliness.  They knew he could not offer them anything of substance besides shiny pieces of armor. And of course, the Armor only has power when it is complete and all the Hero could give them was a piece. Sensing this they would leave – or the Hero would run them out. The honest Nymphs would leave with compassion. The angry Nymphs would become Furies use their Knowledge and Power to create another fracture on the Hero’s armor.

Over the years the Hero gave away many pieces there was no real armor left. Just trinkets. A Nymph needs more than trinkets; wants more than trinkets. Deserves more than trinkets.

So as One left the Hero would find two more…and so on and so on and so on. For a longtime…


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