Post by David Johnston
What stories use Magic is Contract Law?
Wellll.... reaching rather far here, but some of my Cynthia
stories reference the Classical mythic theme that what one god
has done, another can't (read, is forbidden to) undo.
Example follows; if you're not interested, hit 'n' now.
"You remember about Tireisias?" Mercury asked.
"Well, yes; the twining snakes, and how he changed his
sex twice ."
"And after that, Zeus and Hera asked him, as one who'd
know, which enjoyed bed-sport more, men or women? And he said,
Women, and Zeus had a great laugh at his consort's expense, and
Hera was so angry he struck Tireisias blind. And Zeus said, I'm
sorry, but I can't help you; what one god has done another god
cannot undo; instead, I'll give you the power of prophecy ."
"Is that the truth?" Cynthia said. "I always wondered .
Oh, forgive me, I interrupted."
"No, no, please: ask."
"I always wondered whether it was true, that what one god
has done another can't undo. How can the immortal gods be bound
to such restraints on their powers? Or is it simply that if they
were not bound, all the stories would fall to the ground? If the
character in your play gets into terrible trouble and then
immediately the god out of the Machine comes down and makes it
all right, you've got no plot, and you'll never win the Drama
Mercury laughed, and tossed one of the green things
(wobbling between one shape and another like a droplet of water
flung into the air) into his mouth. "That's almost right," he
said. "It's a matter of honor. It's not 'what a god has done,
no one can undo;' it's 'what one god has done, another is bound
in honor not to undo. You'll remember how Hera turned Io into a
cow, because she'd lain with Zeus? Zeus couldn't undo that; but
she wandered into Egypt where she not only regained her shape,
but rose to godhead as Isis. But if that hadn't happened, she
might have wandered into some mortal's farmyard and been
slaughtered . or put in the stockpen to bear calves for the rest
of her life. It happens all the time. It's tricky, for a god to
circumvent another's actions without breaking honor. Sometimes
the shortest distance between two points is around three sides of
a square." He drank again, and sighed.
"Well, my Lord, maybe it's just the wine, but I am
beginning to think you want me to do something." The god smiled.
"And you can't tell me what it is, because that would be
The god smiled wider (the room was becoming warmer), and
made beckoning motions, as if to say "Go on, go on."
"Then how am I find out what to do? . Never mind that,
what *can* you tell me?"
"I can tell you," the god said, "that if you go to
Mytilene, on Lesbos, you will presently see and recognize what
needs doing. And if you'll agree to do it, I'll teach you a fine
charm for undoing enchantments."
Does that work for you?
Dorothy J. Heydt
djheydt at gmail dot com