Belshazzar (III/IV)

It is 550 years before the common era. In Harran, at the temple of the moon god, Nabonidus binds Mylitta to the altar.

“I’m sorry,” Nabonidus says.

Mylitta is drowning. She cannot breathe. It makes no sense what is happening to her.

There are words for what he does. They are mundane words, words of everyday life, but they are not pleasant ones. But in the end, it is not the things he does to her that hurts. It is that she cannot stop them.

I loved my world,
My world, where I was strong, where I was fair, where I shone bright,
My world, where I was strong, where I was fair, and I would win.

I did not want to leave that world,
My world, where I was strong,
But passage took to me.
And now my world is thin, and dark, and trembling.
And now my world is thin, and dark, and full of storms.

I trembled when I dreamed
Of it,
The passage to a place of storms.
But passage took to me.

— Mylitta’s Lament

In the temple of Sin, at Harran, Nabonidus escorts Mylitta into a world where neither reason nor magic has power, and nor does she.

This act is named eduction.

At the end, there is a god.

5 thoughts on “Belshazzar (III/IV)

  1. uhhh

    did both the hero and the monster become the god?

    The abstract way the chapter is written makes it hard to tell, but I would say no.

  2. Wow. Be prepared for a very long response, because this one has really got me thinking.

    First of all, I am confused by the title of the chapter. It seems pretty clear to me that Belshazzar’s feast (as told in the book of Daniel) is what Sabin was talking about to his daughter in The People of Salt (IV/IV):

    “The hero fell, and the monster triumphed over her. Not our hand but Allah’s broke his tyranny. Not our efforts but Allah’s will saved us from eternal slavery. And, even so, some of our people are still in the monster’s hands.”

    The appendices ( have scant information on Mylitta. Mates: unknown, Children: Adonis. This doesn’t mean that she couldn’t be the mother of Belshazzar by Nabonidus, but I don’t think that’s the case. The abstract way in which the chapter is written makes it hard to tell, but it would appear that Nabonidus used Mylitta to create Belshazzar. (That means Belshazzar wasn’t the son of Nabonidus in the literal sense, but was in every other way.)

    There’s something else that gets under my skin about this story, though. I know that sometimes a story is just a story, but I can’t help but look for morals and lessons in what I read. Indeed, since this story is a retelling of ancient mythology, it seems natural to do so. To me, it seems to me that Mylitta was a poor Hero, but why? Was her failing that she chose to honor her contract with The Monster instead of performing her duty as The Hero? Was it that she did so after discovering Nabonidus’ deception? Was it her continued relationship with Nabonidus; the misguided attempt to change him; her blind love for him?

    What I see as Mylitta’s fatal flaw is weakness of will. She goes to the world of the dead to meet her mother. While there, White Lion gives her the power of The Hero. She uses it to escape the underworld, but completely forgets to look for her mother (though she could easily have done so.) When confronted with her lover’s deceit, she chooses to honor the original agreement. She thinks this gives her power, but she ends up in a cage, while The Monster continues to do as he will out of her sight. She starts out wanting to take a stand, but never really carries through with any of her plans. She is a poor inheritor of her legacy; lacking her mother’s determination, the will to say, “I will kill him, I promise.”

    Perhaps that’s the lesson: that some people are simply weak, and there’s nothing they can do about it. That’s a very bitter, very sad truth. That certainly explains why it effects me in the way it does.

    “She’s so helpless,” sighs Mylitta’s boy.

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