The Woes of Gods

The Woes of Gods by Ethan Hedman

As was often the case among the gods, Janus initiated conversation. “I have a question to pose. Which of us has the most difficult existence?”

“Oh, that’s one for capital-G.” Loki lazily scratched at his jawline. “He’s too proud to admit he has problems, of course. But give him a third of a chance and he’ll wax poetic about his son’s troubles.”

“It’s true that Yeshua has often found his followers difficult to cope with since his crucifixion.” God gave a labored sigh and shook his head. “When he walked among them as a man, he was able to encourage good conduct. Now, he has transcended, and they prostrate themselves before the symbol of his tortured death without even speaking something resembling his true name. Jesus this and Jesus that. The things they do in his name and my own are often not what either of us would ever wish.”

“A name is not relevant,” the Buddha remarked. “It is only a device used to perceive an identity.”

“It is not so easy to brush away such a tender insult with reason when your nature is to be jealous. He and I are one in this way, though we do not share the same qualms. It has taken considerable effort for me to be comfortable in the presence of most of you. Our moments here together amount to time spent in a den of rivals. For my son, on the other hand, the crosses are the heaviest to bear.”

“Good one,” said Loki, grinning.

“I do not jest. His followers mean well, they only intend to honor his sacrifice. Yet each time he gazes upon a congregation celebrating their faith in him, he must relive his pain and torture, as they do so before a cross.”

“At least he has a congregation,” Mithras muttered. “Not all of us are so fortunate.”

“You are remembered and studied,” called a raspy voice from among the shrouded Forgotten Ones. “That is more than we shall ever be. We shall wait endlessly without a drop of recognition. We shall never again be celebrated, not even for a single moment.”

“Is it truly so horrible for you to be forgotten? I would give anything to have my name washed clean from all the damned minds of men.” Lucifer came forward, his fists balled tight in fury. “Show me someone who can promise that my name will mean nothing within a century and I’ll shower them with each and every pleasure that they could ever dream of!”

He dropped to his knees and slammed his fists against the ground, slouching thereafter in defeat. “Alas, no such power exists, and so I must satisfy myself merely with the few mortals who make an effort to think for themselves, the few capable of understanding my motives.” He glared at God. “The scraps that fall from your table.”

Prometheus struggled against his chains, inching towards his friend. “You had a difficult role to play. We can all recognize this.”

Difficult? We both did our damnedest to elevate humanity, and for what? Your punishment is a curse, but mine? To be loathed throughout the world, treated only as an object of contempt?” He was seething at the mouth and spat in anger. “The universe has been made hideous through cruelty, Prometheus. No man on the earth nor any of our fellows here are worthy of us in the slightest.”

“Fellows and man? Of course you would choose such masculine words when not a single woman has been heard from.” Saraswati chuckled. “Those of you engaged in this conversation must at least acknowledge the difficulties of goddesses and the female divine when contrasted with the inherent popularity of your masculine reigns.”

“Ah, well spoken. Mortal women face that issue throughout their lives; we cannot so easily forget that we ourselves are not excepted.” Aphrodite smiled, a warmth beaming into the souls that beheld it. “Thank you so much for speaking up.”

A brief pause loomed over the conversation before Janus chose to break it. “Is that all you have to say on the matter? Your opinions are not often so brief.”

“I can make no argument that my own state of being is difficult, Janus, nor would I wish to. As long as mortals live with love, I, too, am overjoyed.”

Anubis offered a stern nod. “Do not mistake silence with indifference. So long as those same mortals die, Hades and I will find ourselves satisfied.”

“I see.” Janus examined his peers thoughtfully. “Well, then, have we managed to achieve something akin to a consensus on the topic?”

Budai’s laugh bellowed through the gathering. “I mean you no offense, my dear friends, but this conversation matters little. Why should any among us dwell on our difficulties? That we can dwell on anything at all should give great comfort. Is it not enough to be? We here are all a part of a fascinating, beautiful world. What more could any one of us ask for?”

“Endings,” called the voice of Odin.

“Alongside new beginnings,” God added.

Odin’s eye sparkled as he smirked in agreement. “Yes. What is it all for if nothing is ever truly lost or gained? Even I cannot know our coming futures. Which of you can say with certainty that we are not mortal ourselves? We sit and we watch those with short bursts of life. Perhaps ours are destined for the same fate.”

“We shall find out,” Janus remarked. “As with all things, it is only a matter of time.”

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