Do you remember the story of Procrustes, son of Poseidon? I certainly did not; at the very least, I knew an inch of the tale, but had to ask around to find his name. Our boy Procrustes wanted everyone to be the right size, and he was a helpful man. He had an iron bed, and with ugly methods, he forced others to lie upon it. The bed was the right size, you see. We might imagine that, once in a while, the people upon it were the right size. But this was rare.
Procrustes, that seeker for perfection of the human form, assisted one and all. If you were wrongsized, he made you of a proper height. If you were too long for the bed, he cured your deformation by remove your feet, your legs, however much of your lower body was necessary to excise in order to bring you to appropriateness.
To small to reach yourself from one end of the bed to the other? Nothing more easily fixed! Procrustes had a wrack, that ancient instrument of truth, and he would stretch you upon it, snapping ligaments and joints, pulling ribs apart, until eventually, you were tall enough.
What could be more humane? Even though one must assume that the majority of those Procrustes encountered were unnatural and inappropriate, everyone left his home as (at last) correct human beings. Some of them were presumably even alive, and a few could possibly walk!
Procrustes was eventually killed. Probably by Theseus; seems like the sort of thing that dude would do.
But now we, ourselves, the inheritors of the legacy of Procrustes, are left with a problem: We have neither that great humanitarian, nor his famed resting place.
And so we have a problem: of what size should we make the bed?
It’s obvious that there’s something wrong with most of humanity, and clearly the answer is going to involve fixing what’s wrong. Otherwise, how can we be equal?
But the question is, what’s wrong with the majority of humanity? Too tall, or too small?
Everyone is wrong. We need to destroy their wrongness and fit everyone properly!
O, Procrustes, we, your poor children, call to your spirit in our time of need. Send us a sign!
Help us, Procrustes, lest we stay lost. Do not force us to remain ourselves! Tell us what sameness is correct! Should we hack, or should we rack?
had an iron bed (or, according to some accounts, two beds) on which he compelled his victims to lie. Here, if a victim was shorter than the bed, he stretched him by hammering or racking the body to fit. Alternatively, if the victim was longer than the bed, he cut off the legs to make the body fit the bed’s length. In either event the victim died. Ultimately Procrustes was slain by his own method by the young Attic hero Theseus, who as a young man slayed robbers and monsters whom he encountered while traveling from Trozen to Athens.