Over two millennia ago, there was a young man in Crete whose name was Adunatos. Adunatos was a young inventor, who worked under the hands of Daedalus himself. To his name many lost and wondrous inventions of the ancient world were made, and all, sadly, were lost to the fires of the great library of Alexandria. But in his time, he was a famous man, though he was not one to enjoy the attention that his position afforded him.
Adunatos was mostly known to be a very reclusive man, and very rarely did he venture off outside of his workshop and home. To the world, he had neither known friends, nor family outside of his recently deceased master. Only a handful of servants, who purchased food for him from the local bazaars and tended to his property, had any daily contact with him. When he had invented a new device, it was these men who announced it; Adunatos sat meekly in his home while his wonders were gazed upon by the outside world. It was only once in his life that he gazed upon the smile of someone who was amazed by his craftsmanship, and nevermore did he need or want to see it.
The rich and poor of Crete would take a keen interest in his works, and ask him to build things for them. He would oblige, so long as they did not visit him, and talked only through his servants. One day the king of Crete, wanting to challenge the young man for his own entertainment, had sent a decree by word of his assistants to build his son a pet, something he thought was nigh impossible. The challenge was accepted, and he worked day and night to complete the directive his king had given him. Adunatos had finished the pet in one year, just as the king had finally run out of patience and given up upon Adunatos. But the servant had come, with minutes to spare before he was to decree Adunatos’ workshop to be razed for his apparent incompetence to serve the king.
Much to his amazement, the king was returned a bronze lion that was as strong and lively as any made of flesh, though it ate kindling, and whistled as a bird. The ecstatic prince would name his new pet “Scola.” The invention had made such an impact, that if the young inventor did not wish to work another day in his life, he could have done so, for the compensation by the king for this great mechanical beast was enough to make any man envious. And yet, Adunatos lived no different than he did before he found this great wealth.
Adunatos was a pious man, and often paid respect to the gods in his home with what little he had. Proudly, he would thank Athena and Hephaestus for the blessings they gave him through his great inventions. Every day, he would lay wine and incense in honor of the gods, and the gods would be good to him. Sometimes, he swore that Athena herself would come into his workshop, and whisper her divine inspiration to him. In his life there was also a sense of tranquility and peace which went with such seclusion.
But soon after his victory with the king, he would make a grave error, and bragged that his wealth was enough to make even Hades envious. Hades, having heard from his underground abode the hubris which Adunatos spouted, was furious. From Adunatos’ well, the god of death and wealth flew out upon his black chariot and into his house he walked. Adunatos saw him, and begged for forgiveness. Hades granted mercy, for he knew of his devotion to the gods, but he could not let such hubris go away unpunished. So, the god stripped Adunatos of all his earned gold, and once again, inventions were not his hobby, but his trade, and soon he gained his fortune from the many kings of Greece once more after word of his bronze lion was shared all throughout the ancient world. And once again, he inventions made both the kings of the lands and himself content.
Yet, not long after his triumph with the Bronze Lion of Crete, Adunatos found that his youth was slipping through his fingers. While he knew he was fond of inventing things, he knew that he had let the best years of his life whither from underneath him. For years, he has talked with only a few people besides himself, and most of his interaction was through the letters the noblemen sent him to engineer the whimsical toys that they would not pay attention to enough in the first place. In his heart, the deep feeling of saudade burned his soul. Besides, what use were all the drachmas in the world, if he spent it on nothing? He quickly dismissed this motion, and returned to his work.
The gods must have wished it so, for in the rain of that evening, the first knock in several years came to Adunatos’ simple wooden door. From his workbench he made his way toward the door and opened it, and from the other side stared a young woman of exquisite beauty. Her hair was messed by the wind, and her clothes were wet from the downpour, but Adunatos was still struck, having not seen such pulchritude in many years. And so, he quickly let the woman into his humble abode.
“Forgive me, I do not have much.” Adunatos spoke softly.
“It’s okay. I don’t want to be much of a burden, sir.” The woman replied.
“There is no problem here. Please, sit down.” He motioned toward a chair.
The woman sat upon the chair of the dining room. The warm fire from the kitchen fire warmed the haggard woman, and dried her. Adunatos had just had dinner, and gave her the leftover lentil soup, a little bread, and a cup of wine his servant had made just a few moments before. He sat, and waited patiently for her to finish.
“Do you need rest for the night?” Adunatos asked the woman.
“If you can, please.”
He led her into a guest room, where he was thanked again, and wished to go to sleep early. Adunatos bid her good night, and left to let his guest sleep.
The next morning Adunatos met the young lady in his kitchen for a quick breakfast before she left. Hesitantly, he tried to begin a conversation with her, and much to his surprise, it lasted for quite a long time. The young lady – Anacopta, as Adunatos found her name was – had seemingly much to talk about with the famed recluse engineer of Crete. But, soon it was time for them to part ways. As a parting gift, Adunatos gave her a golden puzzle-box, something that Anacopta could always remember him for, and something of great engineering and worth. He would not see her again.
Adunatos parted with her quietly, and resigned back to his workbench. For many weeks, Adunatos’ work slowly declined. The thought of Anacopta lingered in his head. It was a horrid malaise for such a man. Nevertheless, he pushed himself through it, though now his work, he felt, was nowhere near up to his standards. Yet, he could not bring himself to throw it away. When it was sent off to Athens, the ship sadly sunk while navigating with the device, and it fell to the bottom of the Mediterranean, just north of Crete. When it was found many years later, it was the only piece of his work that survived, though nobody knew of its inventor or any of his other inventions.
When rumor of the sinking spread, Adunatos grieved, for it was not only the end for the ship and the sailors, but the people of Greece began to question whether he was beginning to lose favor with the gods. The contracts which filled his coffers in earlier years began to dry. While he was still a rich man from his handiwork, he thought that he no longer had the trust to build the inventions he loved.
Adunatos walked to the sea, and sat upon a steep face of rock. Athena, knowing his state of mind, came to him in human form.
“I did not give you these gifts just to see you throw your life away, mortal.”
“Then I request this one favor from you: Remove me of this arrow which has Eros as pierced my heart! It has done nothing but give me this misery!”
“The arrow has pierced you already mortal; I cannot reverse the effects of its poison! “
“But I cannot go on living like this!”
Nonetheless, Athena reached into his heart with a spectral hand, and from his chest emerged first the shaft, and then the ornate and serrated arrowhead that Eros struck him with many weeks ago. It caused an intense pain to arise from Adunatos, but it quickly subsided into a dull throb. Athena snapped the arrow in two, and a fluid leaked from its innards as it slowly disappeared into nothingness. The hole from which the cursed arrow emerged was still present upon his shoulderblade, now a bloodied scar.
“This is the best I can do for you. For all else which comes your way, time shall heal the rest of your wounds.”
Adunatos bowed to Athena. “Thank you so much my lady.”
Athena lifted his chin up to her, and stared in annoyance.
“I cannot protect you from being struck by Eros forever, but do not be afraid of his arrows. As much as I wish for you to be my favored son to show the world the light of knowledge, you cannot be afraid of the people and hide behind your door in cowardice. That brings little to them but the wonder of machines which they cannot understand. Do not be afraid, for though not all the men in the world may admire you, there are many who do, and they shall help you grow in ways which the gods cannot. Once you know this, you should not worry about the arrows, and the arrows will not hurt you, but help you. Understand what I have said to you, mortal, for though I favor you now, the next time I shall not be so merciful.”
Athena turned into an owl, flying back to Mount Olympus, and left Adunatos upon the cliff, staring off to the waves of the sea. A woman walked toward him, holding in her hands an opened puzzle-box.