Limits Of The First Born

Protogenoi, Alexandrian Mouseion, and the Shrine of the Muses

Anthony Mountjoy
Jan 23 · 12 min read
Choas, the first progenitor from which the primordial gods entered our Universe. (Magnum Chaos by Giovan Francesco Capoferri c. 1524)

Elementals from before the first age. Primordial deities, children of Chaos, conceived in the dawn of creation. A mother, a father, children… infighting and more. A mythological codex illustrating the Universe for simple folk interpreting a cosmic mystery in oral tradition. From the first born onward one assumes this hereditary narrative describes the social dynamics of political intrigue. Love, war, death and rebirth. Power and game theory. I suggest there is a deeper message. Something intended for the orators themselves. A hidden code of sorts, or a partial description that when combined with certain modern conventions reveals a profound truth.

Gaia materialized spontaneously from Chaos having no mother or father… something from nothing.

Ouranos was the first born of virgin Gaia who would ultimately sire the Titans and Cyclops. “The heavenly gods were descended from Gaia through her union with Ouranos (Uranus) (Sky), the sea-gods from her union with Pontos (Sea), the Gigantes (Giants) from her mating with Tartaros (the Pit)”, and mortal creatures, each unique in their time, born directly from Gaia’s earthy flesh.

Many of the Titans were beautiful and strong but they were just as primitive as any of the primordial children. Incapable of progress or growth. Perpetually immature and their children the Olympians would fare no better. Doomed to fight forever among themselves over petty insults and treasures they can’t truly appreciate anyway. Ironically, of all creatures in mythological creation the only ones capable of overcoming this predetermined fate are the mortals. We maintain the one thing Gaia held back from the rest of her creations. The ability to grow beyond preconceptions thanks to our biological form… our life-form.

Here and gone, leaving behind the consequences of our choices like painted strokes across a canvas. While immortals remain unchanging, cursed to watch helplessly as mankind casts sails for the enduring unknown of new frontiers. Like all mortal kind who are made of choices, our ever changing biology provides a foundation for reliable production. We innovate and the gods have no choice but to wait for us to do it. Mortals are the producers of new ideas… choice… behaviour and death. You just can’t have one without the other.

If you can’t die then you’ll eventually undermine yourself having no lasting consequence. Without enduring consequence to inform significant relativity your choices don’t matter. Without the accountability of mortality you’re not really alive in the first place. You’d be no better off than a god trapped in a constellation.

The Mutilation of Uranus (Ouranos) by Saturn: fresco by Giorgio Vasari and Cristofano Gherardi, c. 1560 Much like his great-grandson Zeus would fear his own son displacing him, Uranus began eating his own children angering Gaia, ultimately leading to his castration and being thrown in the sea where his blood spawned all sea life.

The Protogenoi (also known as the primordial gods) are the first race of immortals to come into existence, the majority of whom were born directly from the void of Chaos who we might now call for our purposes Unrealized Potential. Gaia (Life), Tartarus(Entropy), Eros(Love), Erebus(Shadow), Hemera(Day) and Nyx(Night). They practically spell out a production formula.

Life produces new ideas in its bid to survive the diminishing return Entropy inflicts on all forms of production and product. Whether commodity or capital in nature Entropy is trying to push everything back into Chaos even Gaia herself. Love is the strongest motivator toward anthropic appraisal; shadow timely knowledge, and day/night is the most basic of production cycles. The ancients either encoded this information on purpose in fables full of interesting, but fictional characters, or they stumbled upon these “just under the surface” secrets by virtue of trial and error through fevers of allegorical histrionics.

Don’t get confused by hereditary differences in kind. The heavenly gods and titans are the same species if you can call these things a species since they aren’t alive in the biological sense. It’s easier to picture them as metaphors or personifications of elemental forces and ideas. Or maybe as technology or physics. Yet we’ve given them names and history which is anthropic. We’ve preferred a hereditary family model for describing these celestial forces and that tells me this isn’t ancient physics. This is ancient Capitalism.

While Protogenoi were the first, the Othrysians or Titans were their children living on Mount Othrys and the Olympians or Gods were their grandchildren on Mount Olympus. Heavenly gods atop their mountains while the sea-gods swam the deep waters, the giants slept in their vast caves, and the surface world belonged to the mortals where the sun would grow food and rain water crops. The mortal realm is the market of divine providence and frankly without a living ecosystem to test the power of gods they’d persist with no purpose whatsoever. At least for now they’re content to amuse themselves laughing at mankind’s futile imitations.

Though it may not be immediately obvious Mortality is its own branch of creation as old as the Titans, or Giants, or ancient monsters of the seas. Of the mortal branch, mankind constitutes only one family and a rather late arrival as animals were created first from feather, fur, etc. Mankind was formed from clay by the Titan Prometheus when Zeus, drunk on victory over his father Cronus and the Titan forces during the Titanomachy, was looking for more subjects to subjugate. Let’s just say Zeus overestimated himself.

Controlling vast elementary forces created by another is one thing but composing those elements into a non-elemental form takes something else entirely. He hadn’t produced his way to victory over the Titans. He instead leveraged Prometheus’s gift of foresight to superior strategic advantage over a diminished Titan force and then it still took 10 years of constant fighting to secure unchallenged control of the known Universe.

The inherently unpredictable yet productive nature of biological Gaia remains an intrinsic component of the mortal form. We are made of her earthly flesh lacking the permanence of the heavenly realm. No “living” creature survives long without producing more than they consume. The mortal literally innovates or dies; produces our great work and then dies anyway.

We don’t have wings, but we found a way to fly. We always find a way around our limitations. We aren’t just the eternal material of atomic timelessness. We’re the compounding progress of choice driven behaviour; constantly in motion. Moved by and moving all movable things.

From the very beginning mankind’s unique character can be defined by the ability to leverage opportunity from its limitations and to go beyond them. Where gods represent sovereignty of divine power and animals, perhaps, survival. Man represents higher potential realized through productive behaviour rooted in the impermanence and anthropic appraisal of life. This is why we created civilization in the first place. To get more out of life with what little time we have. To enjoy it by compounding achievements so we don’t have to repeat the mistakes of our past.

Let the gods run in circles…

Our organizing principal is applying capacity to opportunity thus elevating us beyond mere survival like the animals. With fire we forge the tools that build the future. We extend our will through forces greater than ourselves by understanding nature and collaborating with it. Aligning our interests with nature herself. This is the true science. If only the gods had shown Gaia the respect she deserves how things might have been different for them.

When Zeus refused mankind fire mankind went to war such is our reverence for the freedom the mother of mortality instilled in us. Unlike Zeus or his Titan cousins. We’d rather be destroyed than live under the yoke of a god’s power trip for we are defined by our unstoppable journey onward. Without change we have nothing.

In this spirit our kind has been completely wiped from the earth at least once. Restored by the grandson of Prometheus, Deucalion, in the wake of a world destroying flood invoked by Zeus, or Jove, or Yahweh (name your faith) to punish mankind for rising so quickly in competitions with the Eternals. Displacing power of strength with production through competence. As we started eying that mountain… Zeus got nervous and now I hope you understand why.

We are living clay, constantly reforming, reshaping… compacted and dispersed.

Our independence and fate-less destiny… compelled Prometheus to sacrifice everything to protect us not because he could see great things in our future but precisely because he couldn’t see our future at all. To a genius with perpetual foresight the most exciting thing is NOT knowing something. For the first time in all of creation tomorrow held something new. The Forethinker was almost free.

Prometheus realized the future he conceived with his godly intellect was incomplete. Critical pieces didn’t yet exist. That while he knew he would face torment for eons siding with mankind… Zeus was overstating eternity because Zeus wasn’t capable of making that claim. Not in absolute terms.

You think Prometheus saved us out of love? Think again. This is an immortal being with no concept of relative value. He doesn’t form new ideas. He can only act out his destiny. The difference between him and his brothers and sisters is that he knows the destiny he’s bound to before it happens. Yet as we learned with Cassandra. For several different reasons, some covered here, knowledge of the future is not enough to change it.

The production cycle cannot be denied and knowing how to write isn’t the same as composing an original story. While forward thinking may signify the first step toward production, it isn’t quite far enough. Yes, it helps to think about the future, but without skin in the game… and without the limitations of opportunity’s window… without accountability… free choice… without cycles imposed by necessity there can be no growth.

Godly nature disqualifies from the problems you’d need to experience if you ever want to learn how to solve them.

The artificial (political) problems gods create for each other just aren’t sufficient. Great achievements are reserved for those who overcome great adversity. A mortal being, here in this world for mere moments, can produce something near eternal (now and forevermore through impact on future works and artists), but not the other way around. We are always just moments away from producing the most important contribution of our lives. In this very real way, mankind is more powerful than all the gods.

While it may seem impossible today, people once built massive cities and states reflective of our rightful place as masters of the mortal realm. Instruments of pure will and ambition determined to produce in the face of impossible odds. If the gods couldn’t stop us when we didn’t have cars or telephones then what’s holding you back now?

The library was known as the “ALEXANDRINA BYBLIOTHECE” and was dedicated to the nine inspirational goddesses of literature, art, and science.

Alexander the Great founded Alexandria in 332 BC on an isthmus opposite Pharos, a small island located on the western edge of the Nile Delta. Around 30 years later in 300 BCE (remember BCE counts backward toward zero) under the patronage of Ptolemy I Soter, Demetrius Of Phaleron was tasked in building the very first “Universal” library near the museum in the Brucheion (Royal Quarter).

Alexandria’s Great Library represented a collection estimated at 100,000 books worth of scrolls and parchments of immeasurable value. Largest collection ever compiled at that time. Ancient knowledge from all over the world including original works of Aristotle and other unique masterpieces. Every word written and copied by human beings and yet at this ancient time even Aristotle was “inspired” by a Muse. Knowing, doing, understanding. If not for the ancient fixation of crediting the gods our civilization might have skipped the dark ages entirely through reliable capital production in a global economy a couple thousand years ago.

The Muses give a strong indication of what the ancients valued and how they figured production of new ideas worked. In a world where we commonly live toward a century imagine the perspective of a people dying routinely in their forties or even younger. What few moments of inspiration are afforded become bound within the accessible.

Gustave Moreau: Hesiod and the Muse (1891)

There are no computers, no internet, no telephone or television. Literacy is rare. Knowledge is a currency. This is a time when almost every moving part of a civilization was constituted by a (wo)man or beast. Even if you were from a significant family or held a title… credit to the gods for your contributions.

Art is long an artist’s life short and even a peasant can produce a masterpiece inspired by a Muse. Lacking critical understanding of production principals, the ancients filled in the gaps with divinity. An author or inventor was inspired by a Muse. A hero was fulfilling an obligation to fate. The introduction of new ideas or unique perspectives were credited to Destiny.

Capitalism hadn’t been formalized yet. Trade almost entirely mercantile. These ancient people had no idea how something could come from nothing so when something showed up they played pin the needle on the deity. If there was a conflict it was the gods’ fighting among themselves… as usual. Ironically, gods were better at providing for mortals (or claiming credit for mortal works anyway) than each other by doing what they do best. Sleeping with everything until they got something useful (or more likely the godling who would later displace them.)

In 272 AD, Aurelian forces destroyed the Broucheion quarter in which the library was located, however, by this time most of its more prestigious works had already been moved to other popular libraries so there is much dispute over how many significant works were really destroyed.

Most corporations have the imagination of gods and that isn’t a compliment.

  • Calliope — Muse of heroic or epic poetry (often holding a writing tablet). ”Chief of all Muses” From this we might conclude that writing is the primordial medium of creative composition and the general tools of writing are the foundation, epic poetry being the finest expression in those days.
  • Clio — Muse of history (often holding a scroll). “The Proclaimer”. This might represent the written word when “legitimized” by authority. Perhaps the world’s first form of distributed commodity. Copies of capital wealth held in Calliope’s manuscript. An official codified history; of all versions Proclaimed. Circulating from library to library and through halls of power so important decisions can be made on matters of trade and war.
  • Erato — Muse of lyric, erotic poetry and love poetry (often playing a lyre). The name would mean “desired” or “lovely”. This is the Muse most likely to inspire sweet nothings as you whisper in your lover’s ear.
  • Euterpe — Muse of music, flutes (often playing flutes). “Giver of delight”
  • Melpomene — Muse of Chorus, and tragedy (often holding a tragic mask). “To celebrate with dance and song.”
  • Polymnia — Muse of sacred poetry, geometry (often shown with a pensive look). “Many praise”. The original social media influencer formatting for all platforms.
  • Terpsichore — Muse of lyric poetry, dancing and choral song (often shown dancing and holding a lyre). “of or relating to dance”
  • Thalia — Muse of comedy (often holding a comic mask). ”Flourishing”, the double beat. Compounding value upon an initial investment. Comedy is a product where time and change itself reveals further humour.
  • Urania — Muse of astronomy (often holding a globe). “Heavenly”. When you look up and imagine colonizing Europa… that was Urania who gave you the idea.

So it came that mankind moved forward sporadically without really understanding how they were doing it. Wars were fought like plays are staged. Reciting violence described in ancient prose. Lacking a reliable production framework obviously restricted our rate of progress because it disconnected cause (producer) and effect (new idea). Missing the opportunity for the state to protect the private property rights of producers who might have otherwise made further contributions.

However, with short life spans severely limiting the duration expected from windows of opportunity it seems mythology sufficiently described, in a Epimetheusic (hindsight) sort of way, an explanation for both the master works themselves and the lack of further production by their masters… gods move on. While this wouldn’t suffice forever, it deserves credit for starting the fire.

Mythology is the kindling of Capitalism. We really only added the last missing ingredients, state enforced property rights, private means of production, market credit for brand building, a few hundred years ago. Much of the heavy lifting had already been done for us by the Muses I suppose... since that’s where the ancients wanted the credit let’s leave it there. Now we can do in months what took our ancestors years so don’t you think it’s time you started working on a new idea of your own? While it’s true that timing matters we shouldn’t have to wait forever.

Verboten Publishing

And, midst the noise of this Great World are feeble cries for help; My ear shall practice to hear such calls, my hands shall train to lift the fallen. - Col. Wm. C. Hunter, Dollars and Sense, 1906

Anthony Mountjoy

Written by

Verboten | Saskatchewan. When I fight I fight to win. When I sleep I dream of battle. When I wake the world welcomes me in a celebration of white light.

Verboten Publishing

And, midst the noise of this Great World are feeble cries for help; My ear shall practice to hear such calls, my hands shall train to lift the fallen. - Col. Wm. C. Hunter, Dollars and Sense, 1906

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