The oral tradition of ancient Greece left a legacy to humanity a set of myths and legends in the relentless search to explain, through these fantastic reports, the beauty and barbarity of human nature.
In this universe, gods, demigods and mortals participated in an endless dance where love and betrayal, brotherhood and revenge, skirmish and peace converged. Such stories, often dramatic and tragic, should serve as a lesson, for they bear witness to the decadent circumstance in which our rulers, as protagonists of this infamous tragedy, claimed to be playing gods.
The myth of tantalum and the Vizcarra vaccination
The tragedy of vaccination had Martin Vizcarra as the central figure. The Mozambican, president of Peru until November 2020, conspired with senior government officials, diplomats and his own family to surreptitiously vaccinate against SARS-CoV2 with a sample provided by Chinese laboratory Sinopharm.
In total, more than 700 people received the vaccine irregularly and without following protocols established by the Vizcarra government itself or by the former Minister of Health, Pilar Mazzetti, also a recipient of the infamous dose.
Between March and November, millions of Peruvians trusted Vizcarra, in a context of national crisis. However, and as if it came from the pen of Homer, the betrayal of the Peruvian people by Vizcarra seems to have been the inspiring element of the myth of Tantalus.
The myth says that the mortal Tantalus, son of Zeus with a nymph, was invited to the table of the gods to participate in Olympus and listen to the intimacies that were broadcast there. Such an invitation caused Tantalus to become a victim of pride and betray the trust of the gods by revealing among mortals the infidelities heard at the table of Zeus.
Not content with this, Tantalus devoted himself to stealing ambrosia and nectar from the gods, sacred foods that bestowed immortality. As if that wasn’t enough, the ineffable guest began to distribute the two among his friends, a crime he committed with others that ended up causing the satisfaction of the Olympian gods.
As punishment, Zeus decided that as a traitor and thief, Tantalus would suffer eternal torment in the underworld. There, as a condemnation for his tireless ambition, he would have to endure thirst and hunger, with a pool of water and fruit trees beside him.
As they approached to eat and drink, the tight water and fruit trees kept moving away, leading Tantalus to live in constant torment, the product of his greed and betrayal.
Israeli historian Yuval Noah Harari says in his famous book “Sapiens” that our abilities as a species allowed us to push the limits of our imaginations and made possible what in the days of Ovid or Sophocles would have been considered a work of witchcraft, magic or mythological miracle. In this sense, creating vaccines that allow us to protect ourselves against the threat of a global pandemic is the product of this divine wonder that could very well be the nectar and ambrosia enjoyed by the gods.
Democratic punishment for betraying trust
In a representative democracy, if there is a place for the gods, they are personified in the citizens. The citizen delegates and removes power as he sees fit. The fatality consists in the fact that it is the politicians who, abusing the trust of their citizen gods, intend to usurp this place and obtain immortality, or, in this context, immunity to vaccination.
In the Peruvian case, Martín Vizcarra was not only vaccinated at the expense of the population, but sought to benefit those around him, then cover the miserable reality with worms and webs.
As in the case of Vizcarra, we are witnessing ethically reprehensible behavior – and which could lead to crime in some cases – on the part of different authorities at the international level. From presidents, to members of the Argentinian bureaucracy or the Spanish royalty, there are already several cases that highlight this weakness to fall into Tantalus addictions.
Citizens are constantly subjected to the permanent perfidy and disappointment of those who sit at their tables dressed in false kindness and a spirit of service. In Peru, Vizcarra and his allies, like Tântalo, deceived the citizens and used the nectar of immortality with disloyalty and malice.
The luck and the wonderful opportunity for amendment, however, lies in knowing how to recognize Tantalus and punish it accordingly, first with the withdrawal of confidence and then with the righteousness of men.
Ancient Greece leaves us as a lesson that, in the collective imagination of this civilization, dishonesty and betrayal were very well paid. It is therefore appropriate that Peruvian citizens, following this lesson, reward the good servant and drastically punish the criminal. If the Greeks understood this three thousand years ago, it is also possible today to make the effort.
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