We have all read legends and mythology. We all learned about Apollo’s masterpiece in singing Lyra. Only two musicians (due to pride and self-confidence) dared to challenge him: Athena and Marsyas. According to the old texts, Marsyas was superior to the god both through his instrument and the gameplay he invented. Therefore the god could only defeat him by trickery. In the first round, Marsyas was superior to the god. He played so beautifully that King Midas, named the referee in addition to the Muses, wanted to give Marsyas the victory. Midas was punished with dog ears. In the second round, the god took over the lead through a trick.
The god imposed the condition that the winner could do what he liked with the defeated. Inevitably, Apollo won and he decided to kill Marsyas alive, skinning him, and throwing him into the lions’ pit. Ovid in his Metamorphoses describes the agony of the satyr, during which the earth drank all the tears of the wooded spirits and of the gods who wept for it. From these tears, a watercourse was formed in Phrygia, a river called Marsyas.
Success, inevitably stimulates vanity (even in gods), anesthetizing the sense of futility. Where is Apollo today? In the dark of history and mythology. But the failure is on the same catastrophic principle: it is followed, more than ever, by powerful waves of frustration in which the obsession of persecution, the envy and the hate of all, and all of it, end up striking the pathology. A perfidious form of vanity is expressed in the belief that it is preponderant, the vice of others.
Unfortunately, no one is immune to this abysmal and contagious vice. Or almost nobody. And finally it deforms our souls. Vanity strikes in foolish people (who become proud and infatuated) as well as in smart people (who become fools). Vanity is corrosive at the individual level and equally dangerous at the couple or collectively. The slippage and bankruptcy of many lives are explained precisely through the latent insanity of vanity.
What is behind the parable: our mutilated souls, the lost beauty of life, the image of the camel that carries raisins on the back but eats thistles.