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Writing Resources from Fifteen Minutes of Fiction

The following is a piece of writing submitted by Brian Sloan on September 16, 2014

A Meeting with History

Everything is energy. Mass is energy waiting to be released. Distance is energy put to use over a period of time. And time, too, is energy.

It takes an awful lot of energy to make matter. e=mc^2, precisely. It takes far more energy to stop the flow of time, and then to reverse it. But it can be done. I know, because I did it.

And in a chiton, no less. Oh well. When in Rome. Or, Greece, as the case may be.

I walked purposefully to the gates of Athens, having hidden my small biplane some miles away. Thankfully, the Greeks had invented sandals, or my feet would be killing me. They certainly weren't big on comfortable clothes, that was certain. I handed the guards at the gate a few drachmas and they let me pass unmolested. The architecture was impressive, and I really hadn't prepared myself to see a city that so closely resembled a modern metropolis. Then again, we did get the word from them.

I'd brought enough money for several large expenditures, because I never knew what I'd need to use it for, but thankfully the main attraction was free. He was quite easy to find, because a large crowd followed him incessantly, and was comprised of all manner of citizenry, allowing me to more easily blend in. Right now, he was in a heated debate with one sophist or another--Gorgias, maybe?--over what sounded like the true nature of honor. I struggled briefly through the crowd and interjected myself into the conversation.

The sophist, Gorgias, was an imposing figure. Tall for his time, and well-built. His black hair was well-maintained and he smelled faintly of perfume. Socrates was his opposite, if opposite is a firm enough word. His hair looked like birds had nested in it, and was more white than grey. He was gangly, and of average height. A stiff breeze seemed enough to knock him from his feet. He was handsome but not overtly so, with a kind face and a weak chin. But his eyes sparkled as brilliant emeralds in the sun. He seemed content to allow Gorgias to talk until he had produced enough rope to hang himself.

"..and what greater honor, therefore, can be found but in that of the conquest of your enemies?"

At this point I had turned a lot of heads. I towered over the conversation, at 6'1" against their 5'5" and down heights. My Greek wasn't great, but it was good enough for me to participate.

"So you claim there to be honor in the killing of your enemies on the field of battle?" My accent was strange, and I could see it in the faces of those around me. "How about those who have wronged you in the city--your own countrymen?"

"I would say there is also honor there."

"How about killing those who have not wronged you?"

"Obviously, there is no honor in that." He scowled.

I thought for a brief moment, then countered. "So you find honor in killings of war, and honor in killings of those who have wronged you. But are these not one in the same? Can it not be said that those you go to war with have wronged you in some manner?"

"I would agree on that point."

"Then it can be said that honor is killing someone who has wronged you, yes?"

"Quite. Can you get to your point?"

"In due time. I am simply trying to understand your argument." I winked at Socrates, who seemed baffled by the gesture. I had forgotten that it wasn't a cultural movement of this time period. I continued with the elenchus. "When someone steals your cattle, what emotion do you feel?"


"And when someone insults your honor?"

"The same."

"Then would it be fair to state that the root of revenge is anger?"

"It would seem so." He was beginning to feel uneasy.

"And therefore the root of honor is anger?"

"By your admission, yes."

"But these are your own words, I have simply conducted a logical exploration of your position on the matter! Do any of my points fail to follow the previous?"

After some muttering and thought, Gorgias relented the point.

"And so we come to the conclusion that honor is anger. And yet, when you kill someone unjustly, is that not an act of anger as well? It appears that we have reached a logical contradiction, and as such this cannot be the true nature of honor." I stepped back and sat, signifying that my participation in the spotlight was finished. The crowd grew restless and Socrates turned to me, queries written all over his face.

"Who are you, stranger, and how do you come by Athens?"

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