Part 3: Enchantress Aglaonike

“Old Woman with Candle,” Matthais Stom, WikiArt.

Hooded robe, walking staff, Aketra appeared
As peasant. Crone she sought, rock-spring
Hovel, amulets, ancient chants, papyrus roll
Aketra brought, augury eyes to discern. Bones
Cast into bowl of turtle shell, divination of
Fates, “Conflicting gods, old and new, such
Designs you seek, reclaim infant child, papyrus
Is riddle-wrought. Bearer of this perplexity,
Lone agéd herald, his face and name you
Know not. All things come to pass, greet you
He will as solitary pilgrim, road to Thessaly.”

Aketra nodded, all crone had bone-gleaned
Spoke true. Papyrus held to candlelight. Alas!
Markings discovered thereon, fugitive Greek
Letters appearing, fading from sight, tilt of
Hand, magic of flickering flame, first letters
“Ægl..” read. “Into my hand spit,” crone to
Aketra blurted. “Darker spells, words womb-
Woven require something of yourself.” Saliva
Slickened finger crone rubbed on papyrus,
Letters to rising sight: “Aglaonike! O! Cursed
Enchantress!” crone wailed. “Living dread!”

More cunning in wisdom and sorcery than
Oracle Aketra, dark-haired Aglaonike, favoured
Of the gods, reigned over planets and moon.
By enchanting pale moonlight, she drew-down
On lunar orb. Phase reckoning chanting spells,
Aglaonike cast moon into earth’s shadow, dark
Eclipse upon pallid brow. By her embrace, first
Crescent of silvered light returned bright. Lo!
Ethereal sphere she ruled. “Stings from bees
In globe-shaped basket will disrupt her reign,
Only damage not to kill,” crone emphasized.

“Young Woman of Albano,” Camille Corot, 1872, WikiArt.

Into woods Aketra and crone strove, bee-tree
Found, split wide in wood, honey-dripping
Comb they sought, bright-banded highland
Bees captured, barbed stinger visible to eye.
Thus began Aketra’s pilgrimage, by foot, oxen
Cart, merchant ship to shores of Thessaly.
As path of fate unwound, she read fortunes
For food and coin, nights slept in hay lofts,
By warm hearth fires, for those who futures
Glimpsed, perceived she was as gypsy, face-
Veiled apiarist not Œtean mountain oracle.

For more on enigmatic Aglaonike, see this link:

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