The Tree

The TreeThe Tree

On the slopes of Mount Maenalus in Arcadia there stands an olive grove near the ruins of a villa. Nearby is a beautiful tomb. Out of the tomb grows an exceedingly large olive tree, misshapen, almost like a man. Many years ago, when the villa was new, in it lived two artists, sculptors. They were praised from here to there. They were named Kalos and Musides. The two dwelt together quite well, though they were very different. One of them liked to stay home and meditate out in the olive grove. One liked to go out and be amongst people.

The tyrant of Syracuse sought out the sculptors for his great statue. He figured that the two men would consult each other on the project and out of it would come something very special. The two set to work right away. They did not let other people see their work, only they were allowed to see it.

Kalos became sick. Musides would speak of it. Time went on and Kalos hardly worked on the sculpture at all. Musides also abandoned the sculpture to care for his friend. Kalos got weaker and weaker. Musides would indulge him in trips to the olive grove. It was in the grove that Kalos died. He wanted only simply decoration of an olive tree on his grave, but Musides carved him a monument in marble.

Afterwards, Musides dove head first into finishing the sculpture for the tyrant. He worked on it and worked on it. Three years after the death of Kalos word came that the statue was finished. The men of the tyrant went to the city to collect the statue, but there was a terrible storm. Since the death of Kalos a large olive tree had grown out of his grave. It was strangely human. When the men of the tyrant came to get the statue, they found that a large branch of the olive tree had fallen on it, destroying it, Musides was nowhere to be found.

The men of the tyrant left; they sought a statue elsewhere.

The olive grove, the olive tree, and the tomb still stand. It seems the night wind whispers about how it knows what happened, but no one else knows.

Observations

I did a quick search to see if Musides and Kalos were real sculptors and they’re not. I’m sure there were actual sculptors at some point named Musides and Kalos, but not famous ones. I did find that somebody had labeled Musides and Kalos the Bert and Ernie of the Mythos. Sure, why not? I think it fits.

Themes

I’m not entirely sure why Kalos had to die or why Musides had to disappear/die. I mean, why do any of have to die–that’s not what this story is about though; this story is about friendship. Why did the friendship between Kalos and Musides end? How did they come to be such good friends despite their personality differences?

Clearly, art united the two men. Who knows, maybe they were lovers? It’s a free country, well, Greece wasn’t, but you know, why not?

Many suppose that Bert and Ernie are gay; I thought they were roommates. Like Bert and Ernie, Musides and Kalos were not alike. Kalos was a very meditative one-with-nature sort of person, while Musides was like, “Show me the party and the beer!” People are different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t create relationships with people who are very different from us. Musides and Kalos only had art in common, nothing else, but they got along just fine, although, it’s a heck of a lot easier to get along with someone when you have stuff in common. Perhaps art was their driving force in common.

Now, maybe the ghost of Kalos got pissed off because the work on the statue had caused the friendship to be ended, so he turned into a olive tree and crushed the thing when it was completed. It could happen, I guess.

If something destroyed your relationship with somebody, wouldn’t you be pretty bent on destroying the thing that did it? The thing about this story is not that a tree willfully crushed a statue, it’s that these two were friends, even though they were nothing alike. Look, people, you can get along with anyone if you try hard enough, but, there is a but, sometimes it’s just easier to be around people you do have things in common with so life isn’t so difficult.

Now, if we can only figure out where the heck Musides went to.

Overall

The tyrant didn’t get his statue; screw him for being a tyrant.

Weigh In

Do you think people who create relationships, while having nothing in common, are to be admired or disbelieved?

What do you think happened to Musides?

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