Erisittone era figlio di un re cresciuto pieno di vizi, non amava che la baldoria e il lusso. Il suo cuore era duro come l’acciaio. Non aveva pietà per nessuno e non rispettava nessuno.

Un giorno chiamò molti servi, giovani e forti, e con loro si recò in un bosco consacrato alla dea Demetra.

Aveva deciso di abbattere gli alberi sacri per costruirsi, con il legname ricavato, un grande salone dove gozzovigliare con amici della sua risma.

I servi avevano cominciato a colpire con le scure le belle piante, quando Demetra, sotto le mentite spoglie di una vecchietta, si presentò al cattivo Erisittone. Con voce carezzevole disse:
“O figlio, osi abbattere gli alberi sacri agli dei?
Ferma la tua mano, e conduci via i tuoi servi, perche la dea, a cui tu distruggi le sacre piante, non ti colpisca con la sua collera”.

Il giovane guardò biecamente la vecchia, e gridò:

“Vattene, vecchia, vattene prima che io ti colpisca con la mia scure! Me la rido di Demetra: questi alberi mi forniranno il legname per la travatura della sala, dove io e i miei amici ci riuniremo a banchettare”.

Demetra, allora, riprese le proprie sembianze, e, al colmo dell’ira, esclamò: “ costruisci pure la casa! Imbandisci i banchetti! Non avranno più fine, ora, i tuoi banchetti!”.

La dea aveva appena pronunziato queste parole che una fame selvaggia si impossessò del giovinastro. Erisittone si precipitò a casa, e si gettò sui cibi, ma più mangiava e più aveva fame. La fame, da quel giorno, cominciò a consumarlo lentamente, terribilmente.

Cento servi gli apprestavano le vivande, altri dodici mescevano il vino. I genitori, vergognandosi del figlio, non gli permettano di partecipare ai conviti, e con ogni scusa allontanavano chi andava ad invitarlo.

Erisittone, ormai, non abbandonava più la stanza, e mangiando continuamente, esauriva le provviste del regno paterno!

La fame maledetta aumentava, e i cibi scomparivano nella sua avida bocca come in un abisso, ma egli non avvertiva mai nessun sollievo. Come la neve o la cera esposta al sole, anzi più delle neve e della cera, si struggeva il disgraziato Erisittone.. Ormai rimanevano di lui soltanto le ossa e i nervi.

Piangevano gli infelici genitori, piangevano le sorelle, piangeva la servitù.

Il padre, con le mani tra i bianchi capelli, pregava gli dei:
“Pietà, o numi, pietà per questo povero figlio mio! Liberatelo dal suo terribile male, o almeno provvedete voi a saziare la sua fame! Nulla più mi resta : son vuote le stalle del mio regno, e vuoti sono tutti gli ovili!”.

Ma la fame di Erisittone non diminuiva: perfino il gatto di casa, terrore dei topolini, fu divorato dal disgraziato giovane!

Quando nella reggia non affluirono più cibi, Erisittone fu costretto a mendicare per la strada un tozzo di pane, e a cercare fra la spazzatura da mangiare.

E poiché la terribile fame aumentava, aumentava, il cattivo Erisittone finì col divorare rabbiosamente le sue stesse carni.


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