“At the Market,” Nicolae Vermont, 1912, WikiArt.

Part 1: Reckless Schemes

Mountain shepherdess I have become, music
Of moving bells, Cypriot grasslands, ancient
Ruins, collapsed stone buildings, godly towers,
Histories time-lost, my past as blank eyes on
Terracotta statues, except for dreams, images
Re-emerging: Athens, wealthy family, distant
Names echoing, I was Aristea, attended by
Handmaiden, Sümer. Reckless schemes for
Coin my undoing, ironies of fates, life’s wheel
Turned round, subservient to my slave.
Now, I am lone-wanderer, days as flower
Petals wind-blowing, to shepherd-folk,
I am Altinay, sound of lute and lyre,
Clear-voiced songs I sing.

Around night fires, nearby clans whispered,
“Who is ruins-rambling woman, her nights
In sacella?” Born of Greek city states, my skin
Was unburnished as is now, semblance of
Aristocracy I still retained, my past respected,
Secrets nomads oft concealed. Upon papyri,
My story written, length coiled amongst my
Sandaled feet. Greek women worked, weaving,
Fields hard labouring, children alongside
Slaves, as my handmaiden, Sümer, payments
For debts owned, enchained woman from
Anatolia, learned weaving skills, colors,
Patterns traded at local agorae, those
Sought by merchants, inland and seafaring.

“Egyptian Water Carrier,” Jean-Leon Gerome, circa 1882, Wikiart.

Thus, gold and coin from harvests, weaving
Brought wealth to our household, Sümer and
I schemed raising riches, sensual-enticing,
Reversal of our roles. In form-revealing chiton,
Sümer was adorned with my jewelry, gold
Necklace, arm-bands, woman of ancient Caria,
I accompanied her as handmaiden. O! How
Merchants admired her, thin body oil-scented,
Eyes of dark flame, Sümer made hard bargains,
Double, thrice value for woven cloth, bosom
Bare to breeze, coins given freely. Näive or
Misguided, we wove by day, during evenings,
Our wares revealed behind curtains closed.

Poem of role reversals and sea voyage to ancient Anatolia.
For more on the role of women in ancient Greece, see this link:
http://www.ancient.eu/article/927/

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