Arkamedin and the Triangle of Love is a little-known* Greek myth. It’s one of my favorites, but is often overlooked. I publish it here in its entirety.
Arkamedin was a half-man, half god – born out of a chance encounter between Zeus and a citizen of Greece, a mortal named Antiolitus who worked as a prostitute to the gods. Usually, before having their way with her, the gods would make Antiolitus infertile for up to 20 minutes, to make it impossible for an illegitimate child to be born. One night, however, Zeus was incredibly inebriated, and he forgot to cast the spell before calling on Antiolitus for a rendezvous. The result of their union was Arkamedin. As soon as Zeus learned of his child, he banished Antiolitus to Hades, and sent Arkamedin to live with an old couple in a hut in the woods. Arkamedin grew up, oblivious of his true parentage, knowing only the quiet old man who provided ample food and water.
One day, when Arkamedin was very young, he found a strange triangle had appeared on the ground. Though he didn’t know it, this was a magical triangle given to him by Zeus – in the hands of a half-immortal such as Arkamedin, this triangle had an enchanting tone, and people were drawn in to the music and its maker. As he grew up, Arkamedin played the triangle more and more, and soon people from the town were abuzz about the strange boy from the woods who played captivating, beautiful music.
Word of his fame grew, and people from all over would descend upon his hut to stop to listen to the beautiful sounds coming out of the union between this instrument and its owner. There were two in particular whom Arkamedin began to notice wherever he played. One was Hilcrate, a shepherd boy from the upper reaches of Greece, who would stop by the hut on his way to the city to sell his wool. Hilcrate was a quiet young man, but he possessed a gentility and generosity that was unmatched. The other was Aloppia, the fiery-eyed beauty from the city. She was known for making even the gods thank themselves for creating such beauty, and could get any man to do whatever she pleased.
Both became captivated by the beautiful sound of Arkamedin’s triangle, and both began to vie for his affection. Arkamedin fell in love with both of them, but was torn between the two – in Hilcrate, he discovered a kindred spirit, a person who shared his compassion and generosity, and a companion with whom he could share a settled life. In Aloppia, however, Arkamedin saw his passionate side, and a person who would share his desire for adventure and excitement. When Arkamedin lay down with Hilcrate, it was comfortable and safe, warm and generous. When Arkamedin lay down with Aloppia, the heavens spewed fire, and their screams of joyous passion were heard as far as Olympus.
Arkamedin continued his affairs with both of them, each unknowing of the existence of the other. His nights were sleepless and his days were ravaged by guilt over his indecision over which one to accept as his one true love. Each time he thought that it was Hilcrate that he wanted, Aloppia would appear and start an exhilarating fire in his soul. Each time he was ready to be with Aloppia, Hilcrate would appear and give him a shoulder to cry on, never judging, never condemning – just being supportive and generous in ways that Aloppia was incapable.
Arkamedin was so distraught, he sat in the woods one night and wept to the Gods, praying for help with his dilemma. Eventually, a wild boar wandered over – an animal that Arkamedin had never seen. It was Zeus in disguise. The boar spoke, counseling Arkamedin. He told the young man that the most important thing in life was balance, especially in love. “If you are unable to find one person to embody all the qualities you need for true love,” he said, “then you must be strong enough to move on, and be ready to face the loneliness in your quest for the one who does.” Arkamedin doubted his own will, and doubted his ability to detach himself from either. He spent the night in restless contemplation, playing his triangle deep in his woodland home, the music soothing his soul while he considered the talking boar’s words. But he couldn’t decide.
The next day, after he and Hilcrate made love under a tree, Arkamedin began to play his triangle. Aloppia, who happened to be nearby, heard the unmistakable sound of her lover’s instrument, and followed the sound. As she neared the tree under which they sat, she drew closer and soon noticed the supine figure of Hilcrate, his head in Arkamedin’s lap, a picture of bliss across his face. Flying into a rage, she approached the two and demanded to know what was happening. Hilcrate, confused by the appearance of this woman spouting accusations, began to cry. Arkamedin, trying his best to calm things down, found himself unable to explain. As the situation grew more and more helpless, with Hilcrate crying harder and harder and Aloppia screaming louder and louder, Arkamedin picked up his triangle and struck a single, solitary note – a note that contained all of his soul, both mortal and immortal, a note that reverberated across the heavens and earth.
Zeus, hearing this note, could only hang his head, for he knew what it signaled. With this note, the grounds opened before Arkamedin and, as Aloppia and Hilcrate were consumed by the spewing fire, Arkamedin he cast his triangle aside and hurled himself into Hades to join his mother in eternal damnation, ’cause he just couldn’t make up his damn mind.
Zeus descended to earth and picked up his triangle, whereupon it was placed in the darkest reaches of Olympus, never to be struck again.
*This myth is little known probably because it’s completely made up by me.