World rules changed and
the gods were required to check their gear at the door. Mercury was
the last to leave and is said to have made his first footprints in the
loamy soil along the lower slopes of Mount Olympus. Along the
way he passed Herakles, stripped of his muscles, desperately trying to
uproot a small tree, and Pan, deprived of his pipes, being studiously ignored
by a small group of village women as he tried, with little success, to
teach himself to whistle. On and on went Mercury, walking, remarkably,
and when he came to a river, instead of speeding over it as he would have
formerly, he waited for the ferry with the others. The prospect that
met his newly foreshortened vision was not glamorous. There was Aphrodite,
stripped of all extravagance, laughing it up with a pair of sailors, and
Dionysius, whose appalling drunkenness inspired no one. Nymphs, deprived
of their gills, sulked along the bone strewn banks of the river.
Off in the distance he could just see Proteus, standing in a field facing
West with his arms wrapped tight around himself.