Friday, September 4, 2009

The Gods of War

I just finished Book I of Aeneid (or chapter one if you count it as one book of 12 chapters). Anyway, it has been seven years since I last read it and I was very much a civilian at the time. I was working at a dot-com, we had just adopted Nigel two years before, I had been out for a long time, I was too old to go back in the Army and really didn't think about it much then. The Army was a source of stories and jokes and memories. (When the Bush administration raised the enlistment age by seven years in 2005 the Army became a present possibility.)

Which is certainly why I missed how the jealous, indulgent, nasty, competing gods with their own needs and wants that fill the Roman heavens seem just like the invisible generals, admirals and other high officials that move us with no purpose we can discern. The gods told Aeneas to found Rome after the fall of Troy. So Aeneas takes the survivors of the Trojan defeat and sets sail from the northeast corner of the Greek peninsula toward the west side of Italy. On the way his ships are wrecked and men scattered by the queen of Heaven who charms the god of the wind. But before the carnage is complete, Neptune, god of the sea, drives off the winds saying "this is my territory" and they have to go. Aeneas knows nothing except he is shipwrecked in Africa and many of his men are lost.

But he has to continue the mission. It's not like we face the danger Aeneas and his men face, but we do deal with crazy changes by people we will never know or meet--and to them we are numbers, not men and women.

In the last week our company and battalion commanders both talked to us in the motor pool about the latest changes in our mission--mostly to say nothing has happened yet. They both told us they would get word to us when something actually changes and the change is in writing. But nothing is for sure yet. Of course there are lots of rumors.

In the meantime, the gods who move us around are busy with what they do and we continue to turn wrenches, fill out paperwork, walk on rocks, and wait to go home.