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Eros the Economical and the Unprepared Lovers

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

The following is a summary of the ancient story known as Eros the Economical and the Unprepared Lovers, passed down through the generations by word of mouth. It was one of the first Aphist fables discovered in the aftermath of the old world's destruction and serves as one section of our moral foundation. As a citizen of Silitra, you should study it and try to understand its lessons.

While we have attempted to faithfully amalgamate and summarize all known versions of this tale here, for a full understanding of the Aphist legends, we would advise that you purchase a yearly museum membership for only 20kgs per week.

While that may seem a steep cost, nothing is more priceless than a good education.

In a bountiful land, far to the West of the Outlands, Eros the Economical happened across two lovers, frolicking naked in some bushes, gorging on fresh fruit from the trees. They called out to him: ‘You there, stranger! Would you like to partake in some fruit?’

One of the lovers picked several pieces of fruit from one of the many surrounding trees and passed them to Eros. Upon tasting the sweet and sour juice, Eros became filled with glorious energy.

‘This’, he said, unfastening his belt, ‘is quite the delicious treat. May I offer you this leather belt in return for a large portion? I have a long journey ahead and must prepare.’

‘We are blessed,’ said the lover, gesturing to the bountiful land around them. ‘We do not need your belt. You may help yourself to as much fruit as your heart desires and, if you would like, you are more than welcome to stay here. We have much land and many homes for you to occupy.’ The lover pointed to a seemingly endless row of red-brick homes, sturdy and well kept. ‘In time’, the lover continued, ‘you might even find another stranger, whom you may love and could love you back.’

‘You speak much of mights, mays and coulds, but have you prepared?’

The lovers gawked at Eros, bearing the ignorant smiles of excessive romance.

‘Prepared for what?’ they replied as one.

‘Prepared for anything that may occur.’

They threw mocking glances to one another, spurning Eros’ lesson.

‘One cannot prepare,’ one lover said, ‘for something one cannot define.’

‘You are quite right, young lover, yet can’t you see, you have just defined that for which one must prepare?’

‘I do not understand,’ the lover replied.

‘Isn’t it quite clear?’ Eros said. ‘That for which you must prepare is that which you cannot define. That is the definition.’

‘That is illogical,’ said the other lover, demonstrating their inability to produce logical thought. Eros smiled at the lovers with all the kindliness of his soul and decided to help them in their preparations for all that may come.

‘I assure you, naive young thing, it is quite logical.’ The lovers grimaced disrespectfully at Eros, but he continued in earnest. ‘You see, you have indeed identified the first point in the necessary logical sequence, but have failed to follow your reason to its final conclusion. While it is true that you cannot define that for which you must prepare when it is undefined, you can define it as undefined. With that in mind, you must now logically agree that the thing for which you must prepare is undefined.’

‘One cannot prepare for the undefined, old man, for it is undefined,’ the more defiant of the two replied. ‘Besides, we have food enough here for the rest of our lives, a roof to call home, and love enough to fill us further still.’ The lover pointed to the plentiful fruits hanging from the trees, the large, red-bricked building they called home and held the other lover’s hand.

‘Ah’, said Eros, ‘but what if that food were to disappear due to these undefined circumstances we have already defined.’

‘That is unlikely,’ both lovers responded. ‘We have many trees here, and many fruits. If one crop fails another will not.’

‘What if’, Eros continued, ‘the roof you call home was to disappear?’

‘There are many other homes from which to choose’, the lover replied, nodding to the endless row of other homes, each as sturdy as the last.

‘Perhaps if you lost the love of your other you would rethink your ideas?’

‘We shall love each other to the very end, old man. Now end this assault on our lives, for we have had enough of your lessons. You are as welcome to stay as go, but leave us to our loving.’

‘Very well’, Eros replied, his face turning red with shock at their ignorance. ‘I am merely a conduit for logic and reason, but cannot expect so much from fools such as you.’

At that, the furious lover launched into a tirade of curses, snatching fruits from the trees and wastefully launching them at Eros. He merely picked up the fruits in preparation for that evening’s meal. The lovers descended to the grass carpet, snickering, and proceeded to copulate wildly, like the foolish animals they had so clearly become.

Unperturbed, Eros left the lovers to their own devices and continued on his merry way.

That evening, not far from where he had met the lovers, Eros sat in a dank cave, warming his bones by a fire. He had spent all day preparing for the fire, chopping wood and gathering stones. He gazed into the flames, thinking of all the preparation it had taken to produce the magnificent blaze until his mind wandered to the lovers. They had received many gifts despite their lack of preparedness. Eros foresaw their nasty end if they did not learn their lesson.

‘It is my duty to teach, yet, they have no desire to learn.’ Eros decried to himself, quickly pulling back, for he could feel illogical emotions welling up inside. Among the sounds of night, he heard the lovers, once again loudly copulating among their many gifts.

At midnight, Eros awoke next to his smouldering fire. It had come to him in a dream: The lesson he must teach. Immediately, amid the morning fog, he set about his work.

Eros approached the clearing where he had previously met the lovers, but they still slept or copulated, lounging in their comfortable home, bellies full of nutritious fruit. From tree to tree, Eros went, stripping each of their gifts. He, unlike the lovers, would prepare for the undefined circumstances to come. Then, he reasoned, they would see the logic of preparedness.

The process was arduous and thankless, but Eros, as was his nature, came prepared with tools to help his harvest. By mid-afternoon, just as the lovers opened their eyes and stumbled through the haze of a comfortable sleep, Eros had completed his task. He had stored every piece of fruit in his cave, ready for the undefined future to come.

The lovers stumbled stupidly from their comfortable home and down their concrete steps into the clearing. At first, they wandered the forest, confused at the complete absence of any fruit to consume. At last, they came across Eros, munching on fruit, outside his cave.

‘Stranger’, the lovers said, ‘do you know where all the fruit has gone?’

‘I do’, said the Eros the Economical. ‘I have harvested every piece in preparation of the undefined futures that may occur.’

‘But’, the lovers screamed, ‘we offered to share all of our food with you, so we could all enjoy our lives.’

‘Yes, and I have graciously accepted your offer’, Eros replied. ‘You have my sincerest gratitude, now that I have fully prepared for an undefined future, with regard to my own sustainence.’

‘But, you have taken all the food, and now we are left with none.’

‘This is true, however, it is certainly not my fault that you did not prepare. So engrossed were you with the passions of the moment, that now you have no food and must starve.’

‘You would allow us to starve?’

‘No, I would allow you to learn.’ Eros replied, seeing his lesson take full effect. ‘However, I can indeed help you in another way’, said Eros.

‘And how is that?’ replied the lover.

‘I will trade you several days’ food for one of your houses.’

‘We offered you a house for nothing before, and now you wish to buy one?’

‘Ah’, said Eros, ‘you offered me a home, this is true. But it would have been one of your homes, or at the very least a home owned by no one. After this transaction, it will be my home, so I will be prepared for any unforeseen, undefined futures.’

At first, the lovers declined Eros’ kind offer, so impassioned were they by their own ignorance of the lesson he taught. Several days passed, however, and eventually, they returned to Eros’ cave.

‘Stranger!’ one lover called out. ‘We have come to purchase food for one week, and, in return we will give you one of our homes.’

Eros exited the cave with a broad smile and welcomed them inside. They sat next to his smouldering fire and listened to Eros’ terms.

‘I will provide you with seven days of sustenance, for the purchase of one home’, Eros said. The lovers were incensed but ultimately agreed to Eros’ terms.

They watched him light a torch before continuing to the back of the cave. There, bathed in the light of Eros’ preparedness, they saw the endless piles of fruit he had collected in all his wisdom. At once, the lovers dashed towards him, sticks in hand, but Eros was prepared and unsheathed his sword.

‘Once again’, Eros expounded, ‘you have failed to prepare for the undefined.’ The lovers dropped their sticks and hung their heads, only somewhat aware of their foolishness. Eros defined new terms for the lovers, giving them but four days’ food instead of seven. They were not prepared to argue further and took the sustenance Eros so kindly offered.

That evening, Eros moved his food from the cave into his new home, purchased through hard work and preparation. Meanwhile, the lovers gorged on what Eros had provided.

Not two days later, there came a knock at Eros’ door. It was, of course, the lovers begging for yet more food. ‘What happened to the food I gave you?’ Eros asked sternly.

‘We survived on it for the first day, but by the second, it was rotting. We ate what we could, and now have none left.’

‘Do you now see that, had you prepared’, Eros said, ‘this would not have happened?’

‘We see that, had we never met you, this would not have happened, stranger.’ Eros shook his head in disbelief. How could they see him this way, he thought. He had clearly given his time and effort to teach them, yet still, they refused to accept reason. ‘I will provide you with enough food for seven days’, Eros told them, ‘but, in return, you will give me every house that you own.’

The lovers threw yet more insults at Eros and departed. But he merely smiled at them, knowing they would soon return.

When, at last, they did return, sickly and hunger-stricken, Eros offered them fairer terms. ‘As I can see’, Eros said, ‘you have begun to starve, and so are more in need of food than you were before.’

‘Yes’, they replied in unison. ‘Please help us.’

‘It is not the duty of the prepared’, Eros reasoned, ‘to help the unprepared, except to teach them. Do you understand yet?’ The lovers agreed that they did understand, but Eros knew that they did not, in fact, understand and were merely lying so they might receive some food. Eros provided them with four days’ food in return for the remaining homes on their land.

‘But where will we live?’ the lovers responded.

‘You may stay in your home, but it will remain in my ownership. In return for this kindness, you will provide me with a weekly sum of twenty fruits.’

‘But you have taken all the fruits’, the lovers protested.

‘There are other lands’, Eros replied, ‘other fruits. Bring me twenty each week, and you may stay in the house.’ With that, the lovers descended to the clearing, bearing Eros’ bountiful harvest.

That week, they dedicated themselves to finding twenty fruits for Eros, travelling far and wide. They work so hard that, at the end of each day, they found themselves unable to copulate from exhaustion. Each night, Eros took solace in the silence, believing them well on their way to learning their lesson. By the end of the week, they again knocked on one of Eros’ many doors and paid him his due.

‘Good work’, Eros said. ‘And have you prepared enough for the week?’

‘Indeed we have’, replied the lovers. ‘We have, in fact, enough to last for several weeks, so hard was our work and extensive our preparations.’ Eros eyed their arrogance suspiciously. They cannot possibly have learned the lesson so well and so fast, he thought. Yet off they went to their home.

That evening, as Eros lay alone in his bed, he heard the lovers once again copulating in tandem with the foxes. He sighed at their unpreparedness for the coming, undefined misfortune for which they would surely not have prepared.

The following week, the lovers approached one of Eros’ many doors with twenty fruits. Eros taught them a lesson: ‘Unfortunately, I cannot accept these fruits.’

‘Why not?’ the lovers replied.

‘You have barely worked this week, and so I can only understand that you can afford more fruits. I provide you with your most valuable asset, and thus require eighty more fruits per week.’

‘But’, the lovers replied, ‘our deal was to provide you with twenty fruits per week. We are providing those twenty fruits, and we do not have eighty more to give.’

‘It is no one’s fault but your own that you have still not prepared for the undefined futures that may occur.’

‘It is impossible to prepare for this future of which you speak, when you take everything we have prepared.’

‘I am only capable of receiving that which you prepare, because I have, at every step, been more prepared than you.’

‘This is injustice’, the lovers replied.

‘Injustice, yes, the final call of the lazy, who wish for all the world to provide them with free fruit.’ Eros sighed, allowing himself an uncharacteristically illogical pity for the idiots. ‘Give what you can’, Eros replied, ‘and I will consider your fates.’

The lovers returned with seventy-eight fruits, and Eros received them all into his home.

‘Next week, you will pay me one-hundred fruits, plus the two you owe from this week.’

The lovers retreated, dejected, still unreasonably blaming Eros for their self-made misfortunes.

That evening, the lovers did not make love, so hungry were they from their lack of preparedness. The following week, they scoured the Outlands in search of fruits. However, this week went slower than before, so lacking were they in the vital nutrition they had failed to save.

At the end of the week, they approached Eros with fifty fruits, some of them ripened into mush.

‘This’, the lovers said, ‘is all we could acquire this week.’ Eros spied the pitiful bounty in disgust.

‘Your laziness betrays you’, he admonished the sickly lovers. ‘You cannot stay in my home for fifty fruits.’

Despite their pleading cries, Eros steeled himself. They must, he thought, learn their lesson.

‘You cannot take our home!’ the illogical lovers complained.

‘No’, Eros replied, ‘That undefined thing for which you did not prepare has taken your home. For fifty fruits, you may stay in my cave this week, and provide me with fifty more next week.’

‘But how can we be sure you will not merely charge one-hundred fruits the following week?’ Eros smiled; at long last, they appeared to be learning their lesson.

‘You should retreat to my cave’, he responded, ‘and think on that pertinent question you have just asked.’

That night, Eros again heard the lovers making love in the very same cave as the foxes. Their cries of lazy passion pierced his ears, and he almost resolved to leave them to their own devices but decided to give them one final attempt at learning their lesson.

The following week, when the lovers could not afford to both pay him and eat, Eros offered them another bargain. Each week, he would allow them a discount on their payments if one or the other returned the favour by making love to Eros. Of course, Eros did not enjoy love-making as they did; it was merely a way to teach them their lesson.

In their hubris, the lovers refused, and Eros took their full payment for the week, informing them that their cave would cost more the following week. The lovers stormed from Eros’ home, weeping at their misfortune, brought on by a lack of preparedness for the undefined circumstances that they could not have foreseen.

Eros awaited their return.

Several days later, one of the lovers returned without the other. They told Eros of their lover’s fate, stricken down by hunger and disease, ailing in Eros’ cave.

‘Please’, they said, ‘can’t you take some pity and help us?’

Eros the Economical again offered the same bargain as before. In great distress, the lover accepted the offer and copulated with Eros. In return, Eros gave his new lover a bounty of fruits for both to consume. This lesson continued for several months until, one day, the other lover – the one who had been ailing – knocked at Eros’ door.

‘Stranger’, the lover spat. ‘You have taken our food, taken our home and taken our love, all of which we offered to you freely.’

‘For once in my life, dear lover, I do not understand.’ Of course, Eros the Economical did understand, as he always did. He simply wanted the spurned lover to learn the lesson he had taught. The other lover had become pregnant with Eros the Economical’s child, revealing the affair. Although the other lover had explained the life-saving circumstances of the bargain, the lover at Eros’ door had taken to a rage. For the first time in the lovers’ long and unprepared lives, they fought.

Now, Eros thought, this one has come to exact revenge.

‘You are neither strong enough, wealthy enough, nor popular enough to exact any form of revenge upon me’, Eros told the lover. ‘This circumstance’, he continued, ‘is merely a result of your failure to prepare.’

‘I do not wish to exact revenge’, said the lover. ‘I merely wish to purchase something from you with what little I have left.’

‘And what would that be’, Eros enquired.

‘Your belt, stranger, for over the past year, you have grown fat, and I see that it no longer fits you, while I have grown thin, and can barely walk without my own breeches falling down.’

Eros the Economical obliged the lover, passing him the belt from his breeches in return for twenty fruits.

The following week, the lovers failed to return to Eros with their weekly payment of two hundred fruits for their cave. Eros waited and waited, but they remained absent. Eventually, Eros took it upon himself to investigate the lazy lovers’ disappearance.

As he approached the cave, his nosed burned from the stench of rotting meat.

Within, he saw the lovers, laid in an embrace, dead from the belt tied around both their necks. Eros laughed at their foolishness.

‘If only they had learned to prepare for those undefined circumstances which may occur’, Eros opined, ‘they would never have fallen so low.’ Upon further inspection, Eros noticed his lover’s pregnant belly bulging and morphing from the thing inside. He sliced it open and removed the child.

Eros the Economical raised the child in his own image, educating it in the ways of logic and reason. He was determined to ensure it would never be as unprepared as its ignorant, foolish and lazy parents.

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