Sunday, 26 May 2013

The Old Man

In Rustichello da Pisa's 13th-century book The Travels of Marco Polo, the famous Venetian merchant adventurer recounts the fable of The Old Man of the Mountain, who had turned the Prophet Mohammed's fantasy of Paradise into reality. The Old Man created a fabulous garden where fresh water, wine, milk and honey flowed in streams, every type of fruit grew in abundance, the buildings were decorated in gold and beautiful girls played musical instruments, danced, sang and caressed and flattered male inhabitants. The Old Man kidnapped local youths, drugged them and when they were unconscious sneaked them into his version of Paradise. They were trained to become his Assassins. Many rulers paid tribute to the Old Man and cultivated his friendship for fear of being murdered. When a ruler displeased him - Muslim or Christian -, the Old Man would send one of his Assassins to kill him, telling the youth that if he were to die in the attempt he would wake up in the Paradise he had already experienced. His Assassins were devout, determined and fearless. The Old Man may be long dead and his garden vanished, but his evil lives on. When those two gullible Michael's who butchered Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich ran to attack the police, they believed they were going to Paradise....


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