I was fascinated by the idea of stamping a ground that men and women had stepped for at least a thousand years, with the hope that the meeting with the dead would give them advice for their future.
I could immagine these forefathers of ours ready to risk their lives in order to achieve their end (at those times pilgrims believed that the meeting with the dead was not riskless because of a contagion it could cause).
I was bothered anyway in my fancy pilgrimage by the dazzling light of the day which showed without pity the tumbledown rooms and walls, once wrapped in a darkness faded only by the dim light of some oil-lamp and echoing the subdued whispering of the priest litanies.
From the sacred area I then descended into the house of Hades, leaving back the pilgrim tracks, but recovering the dim light, the silence and concentration indispensable to my course.
I thought how sad the pilgrim life was in those times, if Homer lets a hero like Achilles say, while in the Underwould, "I would rather be plowman to some poor countryman on a small holding than lord over all the exhausted dead" (see proper verse) ! If for all those men the only possible good existence was while alive, I figured out how they selfishly lived their days, terrorized by the elapsing time.
I also considered what great progress the advent of Christianity had been for humanity because, while moving ahead the hope of the true life, had freed men from death terror.
As far as I was concerned, I then thought how difficult it was to make reason accept what the heart longs but faith does not support. And I concluded repeating to myself that, failing all else, I only saw as a living purpose, the species preservation, or rather all living species preservation, preservation which is not just the procreating act but also everything which allows men to progress and grow up.
My mind went also to what mostly upsets me, not death idea, acceptable because the species, not the single being, have to be preserved, but rather the thought that, with death, every track is lost of each man passage as if every personal remembrance, every experience, were of no importance and did not deserve surviving. I know very little of my paternal grandfather and only the name of my great-grandfather.
So I went back to the lines assumed to be by Virgil, "sic vos non vobis". But these lines satisfy reason not soul doubts.
My wife's voice behind me brought me back to my senses, I returned to the sacred area, to the dazzling light of the living world, where some rare tourists took snaps and the old walls, illuminated by the sun, lost some of their glamour. My problems were still there, unresolved, I thought, Pluto and Persephone do not live here anymore!
I started back to the exit when I saw it
moving quickly in the thin grass. I turned it upside down, it was
a female tortoise. "Persephone", I called, while putting it into its place,
"I recognize you; your ancestress from here is figured in Ioannina Museum.
You have not left us! As long as your species will continue running these
places, they will continue living of the old light ."
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