Chariot Race of Pride

By: Camille Shuey

He was the transcendent chariot rider in all of Greece. He had unequalled horses and chariots. This man’s name was Aeronodis, Aeronodis Gilia. Aeronodis was a very tall young man, tan, had a prideful walk. He had short, black hair with faint black circles around his chocolate brown eyes that couldn’t go unnoticed. He was very lean and agile with strong muscles, even though it didn’t show. Soiled clothing lay across the man’s body skinny body. This man was truly fascinating to everyone in Thessaly. But, there was something that sullied his reputation. His pride; he was just too full of himself. He flaunted about his victories over the commoners of Thessaly. But, now he was getting bored of amateurs that came to him, fire burning in their eyes. He wanted a challenge, someone who could really make him sweat.

The next day, Aeronodis got a brilliant idea. He was going to challenge Zeus to a chariot race. Why didn’t I think of this before? This is the perfect moment to show off my indefectible chariot skills, Aeronodis thought as he walked up to the base of Mount Olympus. “O, great and powerful Zeus!” Aeronodis called, a hint of sarcasm lacing his tone, “I have a request!” An intense light appeared before Aeronodis’ eyes. When his temporary blindness wore off, Zeus was towering above him, his great shadow obscuring Aeronodis’ face. The god stood well above Aeronodis’ head, his pure white hair gleaming in the afternoon sun. He wore a straight, serious face and his blue eyes sparkled. Zeus was very tall indeed, towering over Aeronodis by a few feet. A shining white robe covered the god from his shoulders to his knees. “What is your request, mortal?” Zeus asked, his voice booming so loud that people from all over Thessaly spun their heads to the sound. “I, Aeronodis Gilia, challenge you, God of gods, to a chariot race!” Aeronodis said, his voice booming with passion and pride. Zeus looked down, studying the man. “Ahahaha!” Zeus burst out into laughter, holding his stomach, and gasping for air. Aeronodis seemed perplexed by the god, and then rage took over his body. “I am serious, for I am the grand chariot rider of Greece! I have defeated everyone I have come by! You, God or gods, will only be a mere test to my true skills! I am Aeronodis Gilia, do not defy me!” He roared, panting. His throat was inflamed, his forehead covered in sweat, his cheeks red. Zeus’ eyes were on him, seeing through his skull and piercing through his mind. “Do you not see that you are earning yourself a death warrant by challenging me, the almighty Zeus?” The god warned his tone quiet and deliberate. Aeronodis nodded his head, the movement full of determination. “You cannot refuse this, Zeus.” Aeronodis almost whispered, venom trailing along his voice. “Okay,” Zeus sighed, turning his head away from the mortal, “tomorrow at dawn, we meet here at the base of this very mountain. Have your chariot and horses ready. Do not say I did not warn you.” The god turned away from the mortal, leaving him in the presence of Mount Olympus. Aeronodis left for his hut to Prepare for this Excursion with Zeus the next day.

Aeronodis woke up early to prepare and to exercise his horses. Aeronodis picked his swiftest and suitable horses for the event. He picked his favorite, Rita, Hemorphes, Bolen, and Salminae. All these horses had beautiful manes with different variations of colored hair. Truly beautiful, he thought as he led them out of the stable. Aeronodis polished his black and silver chariot until it glowed, even in the darkness of the hut Aeronodis called home. He took his horses for a few test rides, and then let them rest, and eat; so that they may be at their best for the competition. Aeronodis felt himself drifting off to sleep while eating lunch. It won’t hurt to take just a little snooze, he thought as he lay on his bed and sealed his eyes shut.

Aeronodis blinked his brown irises open. He looked out his small, confined window to see the sun slowly sinking towards the horizon. He shook the sleep from his head and enhanced his chariot once more before heading towards Mount Olympus, leads in hand. As he strolled by, people followed the man, curiosity filling their eyes. He sauntered with pride and determination. Soon, he walked up to the highland. The mountain looked very graceful in this time of day, the way the sun glowed behind the mountain’s huge shape. I wish I had time to see this every day, Aeronodis thought as his eyes beheld the beautiful scenery before him. His eyes immediately found Zeus in the hoard of commoners. Aeronodis’ flared with a fire fueled by rage. He couldn’t forget how Zeus belittled him and laughed like an old hyena. Zeus had a grand chariot, laced with gold embroidery with a white base. Stallions with flaming gold manes and magnificent with hair with little gold streaks here and there . All of these things were gleaming with an unimaginable brightness that Aeronodis thought of it as the sun. “So,” Zeus boomed, silencing the crowd with a single word, “you are the one who challenged me. What, may I ask, is chariot route we are taking for this event?” Now, Aeronodis never thought about the course, but he thought one up in a mere second. “ We are to race through Thessaly, come back here and circle the base of this mountain, and end in the vast lily field to the east.” Aeronodis explained, raising his voice for all to hear. Zeus nodded his head in acknowledgement, and got into his chariot. Aeronodis did the same, riding up beside Zeus. “ Good luck, o powerful one.” Aeronodis hissed, sarcasm and rage clear in his tone. They both got set, then they took off, leaving the crowd of raging commoners in their dust.

Aeronodis had to say, this was a challenge for him. Zeus was swiftly passing by buildings, calmly looking ahead of himself as if this was his daily routine. But, Aeronodis knew he could not lose. For if he did, he would be looked down upon forever. They were already heading towards the base of Mount Olympus, seeing it towering over Thessaly and sky rocketing into the heavens where the gods lived. Both chariots were neck and neck; both very close. But, Aeronodis took note that Zeus was only inches ahead of him. He lashed his leather whip at his horses, signaling them to move faster. The horses’ hearts were pounding, but they followed orders and pelted ahead of Zeus of by a few inches. But, Aeronodis saw that the advance was not enough to lose Zeus. The god suddenly lurched forward, moving rapidly in front of Aeronodis, never letting his eyes leave the dirt road ahead of him. I never would have thought I would have to use this, Aeronodis contemplated as he dug around in his pockets. This wasn’t really imperative to have, it was leaning more towards the trivial type of necessity. It was a rock, not a big one, but enough to protect one’s self with. Aeronodis looked at it for a short moment , then threw the small rock over Zeus’ shoulder. Zeus’ chariot hit the bump, then veered off course into a pile of dirt. Zeus had lost control of his horses and his sight. He swerved over to the right, then got back on track. Only to realize that Aeronodis was about to cross the finish line.

Ecstasy, achievement, glory, wealth. Those were just some of the things that passed through Aeronodis’ mind as he crossed the finish line that sealed his fate. Zeus stomped his foot in resentment and made his way over to the gloating Aeronodis. “You puny mortal! You threw a rock to knock me off course.! You cheated a god!” Zeus screamed out, catching everyone’s attention. Before Aeronodis could retaliate to the remark, Zeus threw a lightning bolt at the prideful man. BOOM! That was the end.

Aeronodis was quickly turned to ashes. Added to that horror, a split in the Earth made everyone screech. A large ravine that split the Earth’s face that seemed like it went into Hades’ territory replaced that spot where Aeronodis stood. The civilians of Thessaly looked up at Zeus in apprehension as he walked up to the blemish on Earth’s surface. “Let that be a permanent lesson to never challenge a god.” Zeus hissed, venom dripping from every word that came out of his mouth.

There were still magnificent chariot riders in Thessaly, but none of them dared to challenge the mighty gods of Mount Olympus; in fear of having the same fate as that boastful Aeronodis Gilia. Since that day, more cracks have formed on Earth’s surface. Today we call these “canyons”. These landforms remind people to never challenge a god.