The True Story of Paradise

Photo: Tiago Aguiar. CC0/Public Domain license.
Photo: Tiago Aguiar.
CC0/Public Domain license.

In old Hittite documents it is truthfully related how Paradise was lost, and we find there some strange deviations from the usual story. Of course, it is hardly scientific to accept the Hittite version without proper criticism; yet even the casual reader will detect some plausibility in the tale as there given.

Adam and Eve lived in the Paradise of the Hittite people just as happily and contented as in the Biblical one. They had given names to all the animals, they had visited all spots of interest, they had tasted of all the fruits except the forbidden one, and for this one they had not even the slightest desire. But Satan, who, since he himself has lost his heaven, can hardly bear to see someone else live peacefully and contentedly in the Paradise of Love, assumed the appearance of a glittering serpent and began to make friends with Eve. He told her funny little amusing, teasing, and flattering things things the more awkward and sluggish Adam would never have dreamed of saying; and though no one can accuse Eve of having directly flirted with Satan, yet it is true that she found a strange and wicked pleasure in hearing and some times pretending not to hear things which had a sulphurous aroma, and in watching the graceful serpent around which little rainbow-colored, glittering, underworld flames were playing.

And by-and-by Satan began to talk of the wide, wide world and of the strange and marvelous fortunes and manifold adventures in that world, of which one who lived always in Eden could scarcely have an adequate idea.

Eve, of course, became curious, but she knew full well that her curiosity was useless and vain. The garden of Paradise had great and forbidding walls, its gates could not be opened by mortal hands, and the tempting world was thus quite out of the question for her. Yet Satan simply smiled away all these obstacles.

“Pluck one of these forbidden apples,” he said; “eat of it, and give Adam to eat, and the gates will open of themselves, and the world with all its wonderful possibilities will lie before you.”

Adventures are for the adventurous, as Lord Beaconsfield will one day say. Dare and you will succeed.” It sounded wonderful, yet Eve hesitated to pluck a fruit that was strictly forbidden to her; and when she cautiously broached the question to Adam and proposed to serve the forbidden fruit as an extra course of their Sunday dinner, she got but scant encouragement. “That is not for me,” Adam said, “dyspeptic as I am. I have no use for such new-fangled dishes. Give me peaches with goat-milk or some berries with honey-dew; then I know what I get, and I know it will agree with me. Your apples are certainly unhealthful and indigestible. Otherwise they wouldn’t be forbidden.”

“But Satan says,” explained Eve, “that they are not forbidden. This is simply a superstition.”

“And what, then, is superstition,” lectured the pedantic Adam, “but inherited experience? Your apples are unwholesome, take my word for it. I don”t care what your friend Satan may or may not say.”

And thus the matter rested. The apples were not plucked and not eaten, because Adam was against it, and Eve did not care greatly, and whenever she did not care greatly, she was quite willing to be amiable and submissive.

Satan was in despair. If he could not entangle the happy couple in the meshes of sin, what hope was there for him and his power? Darkly brooding, he sat on a blackened rock, when suddenly an old and hag-like woman stood before him and surveyed him with a toothless and evil smile.

“Satan,” she said, “Prince of Sin and Darkness, never, never will you be able to destroy the Paradise of Love if I do not lend my help. Your time has not yet arrived. Leave Adam and Eve for a while to my tender and skillful ministrations, and they will soon be your prey. When I have paved the way for you, you will conquer.”

“And who are you?” asked Satan surprised. “Who are you who claim to be more powerful than Sin itself? What is your name?”

“My name,” said the hag with her repulsive smile, “my name is Ennui; I am Dame Boredom.”

And as the hag had prophesied, so it happened. As soon as she appeared in Paradise, the end of all happiness was in sight. Soon the first couple plucked the forbidden fruit and ate it, only to escape the intolerable ennui that had settled upon them; then the gates of Paradise opened, and they went out to meet Satan, who was smilingly waiting for them.

What happened further is not disclosed. Like many other tales, the Hittite manuscript breaks abruptly off just when the real story begins; but someone who has studied the subject extensively assures us that there is very much truth in this version, and that in the Paradise of Love, after an unbelievably short time, one still becomes, as in the days of Adam and Eve, a helpless prey to the same old and intolerable boredom.

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