Why

Maybe tragedy is beautiful

Why

“Why?”

“Because there’s no point.”

“Father, they are murdering us, raping our wives and sisters, burning us as torches in the street!”

“And?”

“And it is only right that we take revenge!”

“Cassius, we fight the Romans. We win. The Christians are saved. Then what? The world is perfect?”

Cassius stuttered as he angrily tried to rebut his father. His father continued.

“We beat the Romans, save our people for a few years but at the price of killing thousands of their people, and then we all die together as Rome is torn to pieces as she rots into decay by her many spurned enemies.”

“You don’t know that!”

“I do, son. We were originally Greek before your grandfather came here as a slave. Greece was conquered in the same manner, as was Egypt, and all that was under Alexander’s sun.”

“Yes, but we save ourselves!”

“This is all assuming we win, which you know is impossible.”

Cassius articulated bitterly as he clenched his teeth, “You don’t know th-”

“This conversation started with you saying that you wish to die killing Romans.”

Cassius finally lets go of his hatred and leaned against a tree. He and his father were both seated on a hill over-looking Rome. His father passed him a bundle of perfectly ripened grapes from his haversack and then pulled one off for himself.

“You see this grape? It is beautiful, is it not?”

“It is,” Cassius replied reluctantly while he looked down on Rome, trying to ignore his father.

“It is soft, fragile, just a vibration away from rupturing out in a burst of sweet nectar. After after it is burst, it can not be put together again. Such beauty must be protected, correct?”

Cassius was unsure how to respond, as it was clearly a rhetorical question but he had not understood the rhetoric.

“Yet, that beauty is fairly meaningless to us until we consume the grape, grind in viciously between our teeth, rupture the skin, grind the nectar into the seeds, and then tear them violently from the grape to spit on the earth.”

His father had now caught Cassius’ attention with his absurd analysis of eating a grape.

“But even this violation isn’t enough. We swallow the remains of this once beautiful grape, now a puddle of mush, and our bodies convert it into the most vulgar of all substances.”

Cassius was disturbed by this over-explanation of such a common task, but his father had replied as if he had read his mind.

“It is a tragedy so common that we are completely indifferent to it. No different are our tragedies to God or nature. Either they enjoy seeing our tragedies like we enjoy eating grapes, or they are completely unaware of the tragic nature of our lives and are simply trying to fulfill a larger goal, just like we are unaware of the tragedy of eating grapes as we simply try to fulfill our hunger. They don’t care.”

A devout Christian his entire life, Cassius’ eyes opened wide. He was swayed from his faith for the first time, by the man who gave him his faith in the first place, of all people.

“So I say; neither should we. I think it is a beautiful thing to eat grapes, the circular nature of how a beautiful thing can become a delicious thing, and then can fertilize other life. Our lives are no different, we are all just somewhere on that circle; either a beautiful grape, a wonderful entertainment, or a rotten pile a fertilizer - but it all leads to a new life, a circle.”

His father pointed down to Rome, animated by the screams of human torches and illuminated by the light they produced. He smiled.

“Surrender, my son. Be as water. Water may be soft, but it overcomes hardness because it has no purpose, no goal, no specific desire. Water is the weakest, yet the strongest, and life is impossible without it. Surrender to the chaotic river of life and smile.”

Cassius looked at him, scared, not of him but of surrendering for the first time in his life.

“Smile.”

His father looked Cassius in the eye but he tried to look away. He knew his father was correct, but it was too much of a weight to receive.

“Let go.”

Cassius clenched his jaw and looked up at the sky for moment before looking back down upon Rome. His father reiterated.

“Smile, Cassius.”

Cassius broke into tears. He had surrendered. He smiled.

“It is beautiful.”

fact or fiction
Tom Cortes
Tom Cortes
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