Out of the Corpse Come Bees

Hilarion: Thou wilt find the Trinity in Samothracian mysteries, – baptism in the religion of Isis, – redemption in the faith of Mithra, – a martyrdom of a God in the festivals of Bacchus. Proserpine is the Virgin! . . . Aristaeus is Jesus!

— The Temptation of St. Anthony, Gustav Flaubert

How they met I’m not sure. The story I heard more than any other from my nine aunts was that my mother was wrestling a lion when my father came along and spotted her. I can believe it – on the rare occasions when I’ve met with the woman I’ve always been on eggshells the entire time. Anyway, maybe that happened or it didn’t, but however it was, off he goes with her without so much as a by-your-leave and puts her up in a city that he renames in her honor. After that he goes off and doesn’t see her again until after I’m born. A powerful, loyal, and intelligent man, my father, but seldom at home. Too much business, I suppose.

I don’t remember him at all. So far as I know we haven’t met except that one time, and what kind of a meeting can a grown man and an infant have, anyway, and me still bloody and shrieking from being born? I don’t know why he took me away from her, or whether it was her idea or his, or because of her enemies or his, but anyway he took me off and set me up with my aunts. They were fantastic – you won’t find a greater group of women in this wide world – but sometimes I wonder what it would have been like to have grown up in a proper family. Probably I wouldn’t have gotten the education I’ve had, and maybe my world’d be dimmer for that, but then again what might he have taught me? Or her?

It’s no use crying about these things. We each got something out of it. I got the widest, weirdest education ever crammed into an adolescent skull, my mother got a long life and the gift of prophecy, and he… well, I suppose he got peace out of it. It’s hard to know exactly why gods do things.