"A true story"

Part 6

Rhadamanthus, Minos and Aeacus, the judges of the deadWE ran into the sentries: we got ourselves arrested and were tied up with garlands of roses - the severest form of restraint available to them. As they took us to their leader, we were told that we were in the Underworld, on one of the Islands Of The Blest. The leader was of course the dread judge of the Dead, Rhadamanthus of Crete. There was a queue of people awaiting trial - we were fourth on the list. First up was Ajax - he was protesting against being forbidden to associate with the other dead heroes, because he'd gone mad and killed himself. Afer hearing the evidence, Rhadamanthus ordered him to be handed over to Hippocrates of Cos, the famous doctor, who was to give him the hellebore treatment [ancient version of electro-convulsive therapy. ed]. Only when restored to full mental health, could he join the other heroes and take meals with them. Case Two involved a love-triangle. Should Helen go with Menelaus, or Theseus? The decision went in favour of Menelaus, because of all he'd been through - and anyway, Theseus had other wives: Hippolyta the Amazon as well as Minos' two daughters Phaedra and Ariadne. Case Three was about status - who was superior, Hannibal or Alexander? Alexander got the nod, and moved up to sit next to Cyrus the Great.

Our case was next. Rhadamanthus wanted to know why we were treading on the sacred soil of the Underworld while not actually dead. We told him the full story - he considered it, helped by Aristides the Just, for a very long time. In the end, the verdict was that we'd have to face trial for unauthorised travel and gratuitous curiosity when we were dead, but that for now we could stay - though only for seven months - and live with the heroes.

Dubai hotel!Ou rosy fetters vanished, and we were escorted to the city, and joined the happy ones' at their party. The actual city is made entirely of gold, while the walls that surround it are of emerald. There are seven gates - all of just one type of wood: cinnamon. The foundations, and all the ground within the wall are of ivory. All the temples of the gods are made of beryl, and the altars inside, on which they perform their great sacrifices, consist of a single slab of amethyst. Around the city flows a river of the the finest myrrh, a hundred royal cubits wide and five deep: perfect for sailing. Their bathing complex is huge and made of glass - with cinnamon-fired heating. But the individual baths are filled not with water, but warm dew. The clothes they wear are of fine gossamer, and dyed purple. They themselves don't in fact have bodies that you can touch - there's no flesh - just a shape and an outline, but despite the lack of substance, they nevertheless have a presence, and move and have thoughts and communicate. Its very much as if their naked souls were going around in bodily form. If you didn't touch them, but relied on visual evidence, you'd never know that they were not solid. They are like walking shadows, but not dark.

No one ages - they retain the age they had when they arrived. Night never falls there, but there's no real daylight either. If you picture the grey of early morning, just before sunrise, that's what the light is like in this land. Also they have only one season - it's perpetually spring, and only the breeze from the west [Zephyrus] ever blows. The land is carpeted with flowers, and all kinds of plants, both common and garden. The vines are dodecaphorous, ie they fruit every month, while pomegranates, apples, and other fruit-trees are triscaidecaphorous - they bear 13 times a year - twice in the month they know as Minoan. In place of ears of corn, fresh loaves of bread grow on the tips of the corn-stalks, like mushrooms. Around the city are 365 springs of water, and the same number of honey; there are 500 of myrrh, though they are smaller, and there are seven rivers of milk and eight of wine.

The party is held outside the city in a field which has the name "Elysian". It is a most beautiful meadow, surrounded by dense, mixed woodland, which provides shade for the partygoers. The couches they recline on are made of flowers, and waiter service is supplied by the winds: there are no wine-waiters, however, as they are unnecessary. All around the dining area are huge trees, of the finest quality glass. Instead of fruit, they produce glasses of all shapes and sizes. When a dinner approaches the table, he just picks a couple and puts them next to his place, and they immediately fill with wine. Such is the way their drinks are fixed, while nightingales and other song-birds supply their garlands: they pick flowers from the meadows round about in their beaks, and flutter over the guests, singing and dropping petals on them like snow. The diners' perfume is provided thus: fluffy clouds take up myrrh from the springs and the river and hover above the tables - as the breeze blows gently on them, they release a fine drizzle of perfume, like dew. The entertainment consists of music and songs.

… is this all that happens at the party ? What excitements await our intrepid voyagers? Read on!