Day: March 10, 2019

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The Raising of Lazarus

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The Raising of Lazarus (From the New Testament, John XI)

Though this story is part of the larger narrative of the Gospel of St. John, it is a perfect example of the short story. The details that lead up to the dramatic climax are at first sight not entirely relevant. It is only after the story has been read in its entirety that we perceive the consummate art of the preparatory sentences. Balzac was, many centuries later, to apply this method to the writing of his novels.

The text is taken from the King James version. There is no title to the story in the original.

The Raising of Lazarus

Now a certain man was sick, named Lazarus, of Bethany, the town of Mary and her sister Martha. (It was that Mary which anointed the Lord with ointment, and wiped his feet with her hair, whose brother Lazarus was sick.) Therefore, his sister sent unto him saying, Lord, behold, he whom thou lovest is sick. When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.

Now Jesus loved Martha, and her sister, and Lazarus. When he had heard therefore that he was sick, he abode two days still in the same place where he was. Then after that saith he to his disciples, Let us go into Judaea again. His disciples say unto him, Master, the Jews of late sought to stone thee; and goest thou thither again? Jesus answered, Are there not twelve hours in the day? If any man walk in the day, he stumbleth not, because he seeth the light of this world. But if a man walk in the night, he stumbleth, because there is no light in him. These things said he: and after that he saith unto them, Our friend Lazarus sleepeth; but I go, that I may awake him out of sleep. Then said his disciples, Lord, if he sleep, he shall do well. Howbeit Jesus spake of his death: but they thought that he had spoken of taking of rest in sleep. 1 hen Jesus said unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead.

And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe: never-theless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellow disciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already. Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem about fifteen furlongs off: and many of the Jews came unto Martha, and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother. Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him, but Mary sat still in the house. Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee. Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again me resurrection at the last day. Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: and whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord; I believe that thou art the Christ, the son of God, which should come into the world. And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee. As soon as she heard that, she arose quickly and came unto him.

Martha met him

Now Jesus was not yet come into the town, but was in that place where Martha met him. The Jews then which were with her in the house, and comforted her, when they saw Mary, that she rose up hastily and went out, followed her saying, She goes unto the grave to weep there. Then when Mary was come where Jesus was, and saw him, she fell down at his feet, saying unto him, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, he groaned in the spirit and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto him, Lord, come and see. Jesus wept. Then said the Jews, Behold how he loved him! And some of them said, Could not this man, which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died? Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave.

It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days. Tesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

And he that was dead, came forth, bound hand and foot with grave- clothes. And his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go. Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him.

The Jackal

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The Jackal (Anonymous: 14th Century A.D., or earlier)

Nothing is known of the author of the Hitopadesa, a manual of didac-tic fables composed—on the basis of the Panchatantra—before the year 1373 A.D.

The present story—which has no title in the original—is reprinted from Charles Wilkins’ translation, London, 1787.

The Jackal

From the Hitopadesa

A certain jackal, as he was roaming about the borders of a town, just as his inclinations led him, fell into a dyer’s vat; but being unable to get out, in the morning he feigned himself dead. At length, the master of the vat, which was filled with indigo, came, and seeing a jackal lying with his legs uppermost, his eyes closed, and his teeth bare, concluded that he was dead, and so, taking him out, he carried him a good way from the town, and there left him.

The sly animal instantly got up, and ran into the woods; when, observing that his coat was turned blue, he meditated in this manner: “I am now of the finest color! what great exaltation may I not bring about for myself?” Saying this, he called a number of jackals together, and addressed them in the following words: “Know that I have lately been sprinkled king of the forests, by the hands of the goddess herself who presides over these woods, with a water drawn from a variety of choice herbs. Observe my color, and henceforward let every business be transacted according to my orders.”

The rest of the jackals, seeing him of such a fine complexion, prostrated themselves before him, and said: “According as Your Highness commands!” By this step he made himself honored by his own relations, and so gained the supreme power over those of his own species, as well as all the other inhabitants of the forests. But after a while, finding himself surrounded by a levee of the first quality, such as the tiger and the like, he began to look down upon his relations; and, at length, he kept them at a distance.

Lion

A certain old jackal, perceiving that his brethren were very much cast down at this behavior, cried: “Do not despair! If it continue thus, this imprudent friend of ours will force us to be revenged. Let me alone to contrive his downfall. The lion, and the rest who pay him court, are taken by his outward appearance; and they obey him as their king, because they are not aware that he is nothing but a jackal: do something then by which he may be found out. Let this plan be pursued: Assemble all of you in a body about the close of the evening, and set up one general howl in his hearing; and I’ll warrant you, the natural disposition of his species will incline him to join in the cry for.

Whatever may be the natural propensity of anyone is very hard to be overcome. If a dog were made king, would he not gnaw his shoe straps?

And thus the tiger, discovering that he is nothing but a jackal, will presently put him to death.” The plan was executed, and the event was just as it had been foretold.

Rabbi Akiva

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The Talmud is a great collection of law, ritual, precept, and example, which was composed during the period extending from the First Century B.C. to the Fourth Century A.D. The work was the result of a vast amount of compilation begun, so far as the actual writing is concerned, in the year 219 A.D. by Rabbi Jehudah Hanassi. About the year 500 A.D. it was complete, having been combined with a good deal of material brought together since the first parts were written down. The colossal work is interspersed throughout with parables, like Rabbi Akiva and The Jewish Mother, all of which were used for purposes of illustration.
The texts of these stories are based, by the editors, upon two early translations. There are no titles to the stories in the original.

Rabbi Akiva

The Rabbis tell us that once the Roman Government made a decree forbidding Israel to study the law. Thereupon Pappus, son of Yehudah, one day found Rabbi Akiva teaching it openly to many whom he had gathered round him to hear it. “Akiva,” he said, “dost not thou fear the Government?” “Listen, was the reply, and I will tell thee how it is through a parable. It is the same with me as with the fishes which a fox, walking by a river s bank, saw darting distractedly to and fro in the stream; and, speaking to them, inquired, ‘From what, pray, are ye fleeing?’ ‘From the nets,’ they answered, ‘which the sons of men have set to snare us. Why, then, rejoined the fox, ‘not try the dry land with me, where we can live together, as our fathers managed to live before us?’

‘Surely,’ they exclaimed, thou art not he of whom we have heard as the most cunning of animals; for in this thing thou art not wise, but foolish. For if we have cause to fear where it is natural for us to live, how much more reason have we to do so where we must die!’ Exactly so,” continued Akiva, “is it with us who study the law, in which it is written, ‘He is thy life and the length of thy days; for if we suffer while studying the law, how much more shah we suffer if we neglect it?”

Not many days afterward it is related that Rabbi Akiva was arrested and thrown into prison. It so happened that they led him out for execution just at the time when Hear, O Israel was being repeated, and as they gashed his flesh Witfi currycombs, and as he was with longdrawn breath uttering the word One, his soul departed from him. Then there came forth a voice from heaven saying, “Blessed art thou, Rabbi Akiva, for thy soul and the word One left thy body together.”

Phineus And The Harpies

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Apollonius of Rhodes (3rd Century B.c.)

Although he was a late writer in the epic form, Apollonius treated ancient mythical material, but from the standpoint of a scholar and a literary stylist. He left his native land, Rhodes, and settled m Alexandria, then the centre of the cultured world. The tale of Phineus is not new, but the details which embellish it, and the verbal pyrotechnics which he lavished upon it, are highly characteristic of the decadent period in which it was written.

The present translation is that of R. C. Seaton, in the Loeb edition, William Heinemann, London, 1912. There is no title to the story in the original.

Phineus And The Harpies

There Phineus, son of Agenor, had his home by the sea, Phineus, who above all men endured most bitter woes because of the gift of prophecy which Leto’s son had granted him aforetime. And he reverenced not a whit even Zeus himself, for he foretold unerringly to men his sacred will. Wherefore Zeus sent upon him a lingering old age, and took from his eyes the pleasant light, and suffered him not to have joy of the dainties untold that the dwellers-around ever brought to his house when they came to inquire the will of heaven. But on a sudden, swooping through the clouds, the Harpies, with their crooked beaks, incessantly snatched the food away from his mouth and hands, and at times not a morsel of food was left, at others but a little, in order that he might live and be tormented. And they poured forth over all a loathsome stench; and no one dared not merely to carry food to his mouth, but even to stand at a distance, so foully reeked the remnants of the meal.

But straightway when he heard the voice and the tramp of the band he knew that they were the men passing by, at whose coming Zeus’s oracle had declared to him that he should have joy of his food. And he rose from his couch, like a lifeless dream, bowed over his staff, and crept to the door on his withered feet, feeling the walls; and as he moved, his limbs trembled for weakness and age; and his parched skin was caked with dirt, and naught but the skin held his bones together. And he came forth from the hall and sat on the threshold of the courtyard; and a dark stupor covered him, and it seemed that the earth reeled round beneath his feet, and he lay in a strength less trance, speechless. But when they saw him they gathered round and marveled, and he at last drew labored breath from the depths of his chest and spoke among them with prophetic utterance:

Son of Leto

“Listen, bravest of all the Hellenes, if it be truly ye, whom by a king’s ruthless command Jason is leading on the ship Argo in quest of the fleece. It is ye truly. Even yet my soul by its divinations knows everything. Thanks I render to thee, King, son of Leto, plunged in bitter affliction though I be. I beseech you by Zeus, the god of suppliants, the sternest foe to sinful men, and for the sake of Phoebus and Hera herself under whose especial care ye have come hither, help me, save an ill-fated man from misery, and depart not uncaring, and leaving me thus as ye see. For not only has the Fury set her foot on my eyes and I drag on to the end a weary old age, but besides my other woes a woe hangs over me, the bitterest of all.

The Harpies, swooping down from some unseen den of destruction, ever snatch the food from my mouth, and I have no device to aid me. But it were easier, when I long for a meal, to escape my own thoughts than them, so swiftly do they fly through the air. But if haply they do leave me a morsel of food, it reeks of decay and the stench is unendurable, nor could any mortal bear to draw near, even for a moment, no, not if his heart were wrought of adamant. But necessity, bitter and insatiate, compels me to abide, and abiding to put food into my accursed belly. These pests, the oracle declares, the sons of Boreas shall restrain, and no strangers are they that shall ward them off” if indeed I am Phineus who was once renowned among men for wealth and the gift of prophecy, and if I am the son of my father Agenor; and when I ruled among the Thracians, by my bridal gifts I brought home their sister Cleopatra to be my wife.”

So spake Agenor’s son, and deep sorrow seized each of the heroes, and especially the two sons of Boreas. And brushing away a tear, they drew nigh, and Zetes spake as follows, taking in his own the hand of the grief-worn sire:

“Unhappy one, none other of men is more wretched than thou, me- thinks. Why upon thee is laid the burden of so many sorrows? Hast thou with baneful folly sinned against the gods through thy skill in prophecy? For this are they greatly wroth with thee? Yet our spirit is dismayed within us for all our desire to aid thee, if indeed the god has granted this privilege to us two. For plain to discern to men of earth are the reproofs of the immortals. And we will never check the Harpies when they come, for all our desire, until thou hast sworn that for this we shall not lose the favor of heaven.”

Thus he spake; and towards him the aged sire opened his sightless eyes and lifted them up and replied with these words:

“Be silent, store not up such thoughts in thy heart, my child. Let the son of Leto be my witness, he who of his gracious will taught me the lore of prophecy, and be witness the ill-starred doom which possesses me, and this dark cloud upon my eyes, and the gods of the underworld —and may their curse be upon me if I die perjured thus—no wrath of heaven will fall upon you two for your help to me.”

Flash lightning

Then were those two eager to help him because of the oath. And quickly the younger heroes prepared a feast for the aged man, a last prey for the Harpies; and both stood near him, to smite with the sword those pests when they swooped down. Scarcely had the aged man touched the food when they forthwith, like bitter blasts or flashes of lightning, suddenly darted from the clouds, and swooped down with a yell, fiercely craving for food; and the heroes beheld them and shouted in the midst of their onrush. But they, at the cry, devoured everything and sped away over the sea afar, and an intolerable stench remained. And behind them the two sons of Boreas, raising their swords, rushed in pursuit.

For Zeus imparted to them tireless strength; but without Zeus they could not have followed, for the Harpies used ever to outstrip the blasts of the west wind when they came to Phineus, and when they left him. And, as when, upon the mountain-side, hounds, cunning in the chase, run in the track of horned goats or deer, and as they strain a little behind, gnash their teeth upon the edge of their teeth in vain; so Zetes and Calias rushing very near, just grazed the Harpies in vain with their fingertips.
And assuredly they would have torn them to pieces despite heaven’s will when they had overtaken them far off at the Floating Islands, had not swift Iris seen them and leaped down from the sky from heaven above and checked them with these words: “It is not lawful, O sons of Boreas, to strike with your swords the Harpies, the hounds of mighty Zeus; but I myself will give you a pledge, that hereafter they shall not draw near to Phineus.”

With these words she took an oath by the water of Styx, which to all the gods is most dread and most awful, that the Harpies would never thereafter again approach the home of Phineus, son of Agenor, for so it was fated. And the heroes, yielding to the oath, turned back their flight to the ship. And, on account of this, men called them the Islands of Turning, though aforetime they had called them the Floating Islands. And the Harpies and Iris parted. They entered their den in Minoan Crete; but she sped up to Olympus, soaring aloft on her swift wings.

Meantime the chiefs carefully cleansed the old man’s squalid skin, and, with due selection, sacrificed sheep which they had borne away from the spoil of Amycus. And when they had laid a huge supper in the hall, they sat down and feasted, and with them feasted Phineus ravenously, delighting his soul as in a dream. And there, when they had taken their fill of food and drink, they kept awake all night, waiting for the sons of Boreas. And the aged sire himself sat in the midst, near the hearth, telling of the end of their voyage and the completion of their journey.