I was just flipping through a source book on Ancient Greece for quotes for this paper I’m writing, when I came across a passage about the rituals used to confirm alliances. The passage (or rather, the exerpt that I chose) reads: “who swore the oaths to the Ionians that they should have the same enemies and friends, to confirm which they sank lumps of iron into the sea [implying that the alliance should last until these rose to the surface, i.e. forever].” The bit in brackets was inserted by the editor of all of these passages, and his explanation, along with the ritual performed by the Greeks struck me, somehow. “They sank lumps of iron into the sea” and therefore sealed their alliance.
It’s almost like a “when pigs fly” kind of thing–when iron floats, then our alliance, our friendship shall be dissolved. Maybe it’s just because it’s 4:30 in the morning, but this new (or old, or original, or whatever) take on permanence gave me chills when I read it through.