Dion spake, “Father, you who are so wise can tell us what love is, so that we shall never miss it. Old Tithonius nods his grey head at us as we pass; he says, ’only with the changeless gods has love endurance, for men the loving time is short and its sweetness is soon over.’”
Neaera added. “But it is not true, father, for his drowsy eyes light when he remembers the old days, when he was happy and proud in love as we are.”
Apollo. “My children, I will tell you the legend how love came into the world and how it may endure. It was on high Olympus the gods held council at the making of man; each had brought a gift, they gave to man something of their own nature. Aphrodite, the loveliest and sweetest, paused and was about to add a new grace to his person, but Eros cried, “let them not be so lovely without, let them be lovelier within. Put you own soul in, O mother.” The mighty mother smiled, and so it was; and now whenever love is like hers, which asks not return but shines on all because it must, within that love Aphrodite dwells and it becomes immortal by her presence.”
Then Dion and Neaera went out, and as they walked homewards through the forest, purple and vaporous in the evening light, they drew closer together; and Dion looking into her eyes saw there a new gleam, violet, magical, shining, there was the presence of Aphrodite, there was her shrine.
Then came in unto Apollo the two grandchildren of old Thithonius and they cried, “See the flowers we have brought you, we gathered them for you down in the valley where they grow best.” Then Apollo said, “What wisdom shall we give to children that they may remember? Our most beautiful for them!” As he stood and looked at them the mask of age and secretness vanished, he stood before them radiant in light; they laughed in joy at his beauty; he bent down and kissed them each upon the forehead then faded away into the light which was his home. As the sun sank down amid the blue hills the old priest awoke with a sigh and cried out, “Oh that we could talk wisely as we do in our dreams.”
—April 15, 1893
It is not merely because it is extraordinary that I wish to tell you this story. I think mere weirdness, grotesque or unusual character, are not sufficient reasons for making public incidents in which there is an element of the superhuman. The world, in spite of its desire to understand the nature of the occult is sick of and refuses to listen to stories of apparitions which betray no spiritual character or reveal no spiritual law. The incident here related is burned into my mind and life, not because of its dramatic intensity or personal character, but because it was a revelation of the secret of power, a secret which the wise in good and the wise in evil alike have knowledge of.