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Pemetes

by Dan Garro 12 months ago in Short Story
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The tale of an obscure god

Being a god is all about notoriety, it’s all about being known. Most humans don’t know this, but a god’s power directly corresponds to human worship. Given this, it is crucial for a god that humans recognize your divine work, honor you, and worship you. In fact, those gods who do not receive much attention in the human world also receive little attention in the realm of the gods, the divine realm.

Unfortunately, Pemetes, the god of pears, was all-too aware of the fact that he simply wasn’t well-known or well-regarded, both in the human world and in the divine realm. It wasn’t for a lack of trying or for failing to do his work, he just somehow slipped through the cracks of human awareness. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been surprised. He always thought humans were fickle and distracted creatures, and they were hardly to blame for their faults. Still, for his own sake, he would have liked a bit more attention, a bit more recognition for a job well done.

Pemetes never thought it was fair that the gods didn’t get an opportunity to choose what they oversaw. Zeus got to oversee everything! Perhaps he even deserved his responsibilities and the attention he received, but it was hard for Pemetes, the god of pears, to admit this fact.

When Pemetes used to visit Olympus, he was mocked by the other gods. They couldn’t understand why he was so unknown, so obscure, and thus so weak. Honestly, he didn’t quite understand it either. Dionysus, the god of wine and ecstasy, once tried to give him some help, some advice. Pemetes looked at him with a straight, no-nonsense expression, and said, “Really, Dionysus? If I was the god of wine and ecstasy you better believe I would be powerful and have a huge following! But pears are a different animal, a different thing entirely.” In his characteristic way, Dionysus just laughed at Pemetes, shrugged his shoulders, and walked away. The rest of the gods laughed at him, and Pemetes stopped frequenting the halls of Olympus.

Pears flourished. Pemetes did his job. And at one point, he even thought he might start to get the recognition he so deserved. The famous poet, Homer, had declared that pears were a gift from the gods. And, indeed, they were. And that had lifted and energized Pemetes’ spirits. He waited for recognition, for his powers to increase, but to his dismay nothing happened. Apparently, while Homer made the right connection between pears and divinity, he was unclear about which of the gods was responsible for pears.

Pemetes was certain that part of the problem was that the people seemed to associate pears not simply with himself—well, very truthfully, hardly ever with himself—but instead associated pears with the goddesses Hera and Aphrodite. As if either Hera or Aphrodite needed any more attention, more blessings, or more worshipers. He struggled to get simple recognition, he worked hard to ensure the pear flourished and the pear trees produced beautiful fruits for the people to eat, and all that happened was that others received credit for the fruits of his labors. Oh, and how happy Hera and Aphrodite were to take the credit. He remembered one occasion when they approached him to tell him how more humans had offered blessings and gifts to them for the bountiful pear harvest. They laughed when Pemetes’ face turned red, and they even gifted him a basket of pears for his hard work that helped them, not himself, climb ever higher amongst the gods.

Things only got worse for Pemetes when the Romans came along and shook up the whole system with new divinities and new ideas. True, many of the old gods got new names and increased powers. But the Romans also introduced new players in the divine game, and these new players only made it harder for Pemetes to continue his work and hold on to the little power he did possess. The final straw, in fact, was when Pomona, an obscure goddess in her own right, started getting associated with fruitful abundance and drained Pemetes of his last remaining power and what little notoriety he still had within the human world.

Being a god is all about notoriety, it’s all about being known. Most humans don’t know this, but a god’s power directly corresponds to human worship. Pemetes, the obscure god of pears, never attained the notoriety he had always wanted. In the end, Dionysus, for reasons we will never know, took the remnants of the obscure-god Pemetes and buried them in a sacred grove under a pear tree that, so the story goes, still bears marvelous fruits to this day. Some say Dionysus did this act of kindness because he felt bad, others say he did it because he is familiar with death and rebirth…In the end, it is hard to know the motivations of the divine.

Thanks for reading!

Please visit my author page and check out my other stories and essays.

Short Story

About the author

Dan Garro

Philosopher/Educator/Writer/Podcast Host & Producer

I'm a philosophy professor, avid reader, I love writing, and I co-host/produce The Existential Stoic Podcast.

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