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The Song of Achilles

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“Name one hero who was happy.”
I considered.  Heracles went mad and killed his family; Theseus lost his bride and father; Jason’s children and new wife were murdered by his old; Bellerophon killed the Chimera but was crippled by the fall from Pegasus’ back.
“You can’t.” He was sitting up now, leaning forward.
“I can’t.”
“I know. They never let you be famous and happy.”  He lifted an eyebrow.  “I’ll tell you a secret.”
“Tell me.”  I loved it when he was like this.
“I’m going to be the first.”

  • Patroclus and Achilles, in Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles

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Genesis

image“When God began to create heaven and earth, and the earth then was welter and waste and darkness over the deep and God’s breath hovering over the waters, God said, ‘Let there be light.’  And there was light.”

*welter and waste. The Hebrew thou wabohu occurs only here and in two later biblical texts that are clearly alluding to this one.  The second word of the pair looks like a nonce term coined to rhyme with the first and to reinforce it, an effect I have tried to approximate in English by alliteration.  Thou by itself means emptiness or futility, and in some contexts is associated with the trackless vacancy of the desert.

– Genesis 1:1, translated by Robert Alter, with commentary

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Dune and Dune Messiah

“The convoluted wording of legalisms grew up around the necessity to hide from ourselves the violence we intend toward each other. Between depriving a man of one hour from his life and depriving him of his life there exists only a difference of degree. You have done violence to him, consumed his energy. Elaborate euphemisms may conceal your intent to kill, but behind any use of power over another the ultimate assumption remains: ‘I feed on your energy.'”

-Addenda to Orders in Council. The Emperor Paul Muad’dib. Dune Messiah

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