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Æsop revised


I was walking in the desert outside the city when I saw, coming towards me, a woman. She was alone, her face veiled against the whip of the sand.

‘Who are you?’ I asked, ‘and what are you doing out here on your own?’ 

‘I am Truth,’ she replied. ‘I came to live in the desert to escape the taint of lies that is everywhere in the cities.’

I realised later she’d said her name was Ruth. (The rest was pure coincidence.)



The traveller had been in the desert for 10 days, and was relieved to see the walls and date palms of the town not far off.

As he came out of the emptiness, he caught sight of a solitary woman, sitting on a rock, unsheltered in the burning heat of the mid-day.

He offered her some water. She accepted it wordlessly, then returned the flask.

‘Who are you?’ he asked.

The woman replied, ‘My name is Alëtheia, goddess of truth.’

The traveller was troubled. ‘If you are a goddess, why are you out here, alone, in the desert?’

‘The town is full of lies, untruths, and malicious gossip. Before, these were known only to a few men – but now they are everywhere, and with everyone you speak to. I had to leave.’

The traveller walked on, and, entering the gates, asked the townsfolk about the strange woman he had met. The told him her name was Joyce, and she had been a prostitute before her husband had her committed.

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