I noticed him right away. No, it wasn’t his lean, rugged face. Or the dark waves of shiny hair that hung just a little too long on his forehead. It wasn’t the slim, collarless biker jacket he wore, hugging his lean shoulders. It was the way he stood. The confident way he waited in the cafeteria line to get a slice of pizza. He didn’t saunter. He didn’t amble. He stood at the center, and let the other people buzz around him. His stance was straight and sure.
Long ago, darkness reigned over the night. People were afraid and remained inside their shelters from sundown until sunrise. The goddess Selene saw their fear and gave light to their nocturnal world by driving her moon chariot across the starry sky. She followed her brother Helios, who rode the sun and caught his shining rays on her magnificent silver chariot, then cast them down to earth as moonbeams. She felt pride in the way the earthlings were comforted by her light. But one night when she had abandoned her chariot to walk upon the earth, she noticed that in times of trouble many people lost all hope. Their despair bewildered her. After considering their plight, she knew how she could make her moon the greatest gift from the gods. From then on she drove around the earth and each night caught her brother's rays from a different angle. This way the face of the moon was everchanging. People watched the moon decrease in light every night, until it could no longer be seen from the earth. Then after three nights of darkness, a crescent sliver returned and the moon increased in light until it was fully illuminated as before. Selene did this to remind people that their darkest times can lead them to their brightest. The ancients understood Selene's gift in the lunar phases. Each night when they gazed at the moon, they knew Selene was telling them to never give up hope.
On August 29th, 1949, when the Soviets conducted their own successful nuclear test, our love for the bomb began to lessen. Perhaps it was foolhardy to think that we alone could hold fire in a fennel stalk. At 5:29 a.m. on that July morning, all we saw was the future when, in fact, we should have remembered how Zeus chained Prometheus to a mountaintop and sent an eagle to eat his liver daily. Night after night, his liver regrew, and day after day, the eagle ate it.
The heroes cleansed our world of chthonic terrors -- earthborn monsters that endangered mankind and threatened to choke the rise of civilisation. So long as dragons, giants, centaurs and mutant beasts infested the air, earth and seas we could never spread out with confidence and transform the wild world into a place of safety for humanity. In time, even the benevolent minor deities would find themselves elbowed out by the burgeoning and newly confident human race. The nymphs, dryads, fauns, satyrs and sprites of the mountains, streams, meadows and oceans could not compete with our need and greed for land to quarry, farm and build upon. The rise of a spirit of rational enquiry and scientific understanding pushed the immortals further from us. The world was being reshaped as a home fit for mortal beings only. Today, of course, some of the rarer and more vulnerable mortal creatures that have shared the world with us are undergoing the same threats to their natural territories that cuased the end of the nymphs and woodland spirits. Habitat loss and species extinction have all happened before. The days of the gods themselves were numbered too. Prometheus's gift of fire, as Zeus had feared, would one day allow us to do even without the Olympians.