Wednesday, August 19, 2015

"Horses go blindly to the sacrifice, but the gods give knowledge to men. When the King was dedicated, he knew his moira. In three years, or seven, or nine, or whenever the custom was, his term would end and the god would call him. And he went consenting, or else he was no king, and power would not fall on him to lead the people. When they came to choose among the Royal Kin, this was his sign: that he chose short life with glory, and to walk with the god, rather than live long, unknown like the stall-fed ox. And the custom changes, Theseus, but this token never. Remember, even if you do not understand . . . It is not the sacrifice, whether it comes in youth or age, or the god remits it; it is not the bloodletting that calls down power. It is the consenting, Theseus. The readiness is all. It washes heart and mind from things of no account, and leaves them open to the god. But one washing does not last a lifetime; we must renew it, or the dust returns to cover us. And so with this. Twenty years I have ruled in Troizen, and four times sent the King Horse to Poseidon. When I lay my hand on his head to make him nod, it is not only to bless the people with the omen. I greet him as my brother before the god, and renew my moira." 

 —Mary Renault, The King Must Die (1958)