The name Rhodopis, which is translated as Rosycheeks, means something much more splendid in the original Greek. Rhodopis was so beautiful that her name recalls the rosy dawn as it broke into sunlight. She was the friend of Aesop and both were set free, she because of her beauty and he because of his fabulous fables. (The words fabulous and fable are from the same source. To understand the meaning of words, it is crucial to look up their root source in the dictionary.)
The Greek word for slave translates as ‘two-footed thing’, so as to distinguish it from four-footed things and other chattels. (Cattle, chattel and capital all come from the same Greek word meaning ‘stock, something you own, your wealth’.)
I imagine the boy to be about five. When his mother leaves him, she says, “Love liberty but forget the key, for the key turns only once.”
These words are quoted from The Wasteland by TS Eliot, one of the world’s great thinkers. His essays of literary criticism uncover the creative process of our minds – when it falls short and when it succeeds. Our True Poet is modelled on him.
Eliot’s poem, The Wasteland, written at the beginning of the 20th century, is like a smashed mirror and our world is reflected in its fragments. Renaissance man thought that by study he could gain complete knowledge of the world but his dream of unity was shattered as knowledge increased. We now live in the age of the specialist whose role has been described as someone who knows more and more about less and less.
I think of the key as the key to character and how it responds to circumstance. Like each of us, I was born with my character. I see it like a bag of tools – the only ones I have to tackle everything that happens to me. I have no choice in the kind of decision I must take sooner or later. Of course character can be tempered by circumstance leading to wiser decisions.
I think of Leonard Peltier; the first key which took away his freedom has become a routine of keys and locks for 35 years. Thinking of the key makes the prison, makes you a victim of circumstance. This never happened to Leonard; they never took away his freedom to be true to himself. Leonard would be a free man if he would admit to a crime he didn’t commit.
I don’t know if I, in my right mind, would admit to a crime I didn’t do so as to get out of prison, feel the wind on my face.