“Petra, Ruins of Triumphal Arch,” David Roberts, WikiArt photo.

Part 1: Temple Earthquake Exposed

Whispers spread across Ægean Seas, fishers,
Merchants, Cyprus port of Kyrenia, ancient
Tomb earthquake exposed, broad sea-view
Promontory, doorway partially buried, single
Hand-chiseled stone slab, knife-blade thin
Seams resin-sealed, attended by time-askew
Statue of seated woman, himation-covered,
Mourning face downward-peering, draped
Upon her lap, sculpted woolen stole. Thus,
Our sea voyage, pilgrimage began, Cosimia
And myself, her mother, Iliona, two-mast
Sailing ship from Greek Chalcis bound for
Distant Kyrenia, opening tomb-revealed.

Port of Kyrenia, dozen ships docked, at
Anchor, Cosimia and I were two amongst
Long procession of pilgrims climbing tomb
Summit trails. Rumors of weeping statue,
Eyes divine light now open, bearing fur
Stole of war-lost son, as so many believed,
Prayers for strength and healing. “She is
Unearthed, upright!” came shouts from
Hilltops to weary souls, straining backs,
Seeking ancient divine. Upon summit
Arrival, salutation-greeted, hymns of praise,
Protecting priestess, sacred temple realized,
Inscriptions, archaic-languages adorned.

At pedestal of marble seated priestess, all
Upon knees prayed, forehead touching
Disturbed earth, pensive chin upon her left
Hand, expression æther-detached, as much
With the world as not. Lo! By single touch of
Sculpted wool stole, illness and pain allayed.
Moments at woman’s feet, Cosimia discerned,
Gold paint flecks upon lap drape. Falling back
Upon herself, “Mother, within this tomb,” she
Whispered at my ear, “Resides venerable
Golden Fleece. Pedestal elegiac inscriptions
We must decipher, this supposed priestess,
Her secrets sunlight-revealed.”

“Medea,” Anthony Frederick Augustus Sandys, 1868, Wikipedia.

Alas! We were not first to seek meaning of
Archaic words, language all were at loss to
Read, alphabet, hand-chiseled images, first
We gleaned as others squabbled, waving
Scrolls of penned papyri, ram with rising
Sun upon its back, if Cosimia’s suspicions
Correct. Transcribing task we undertook,
Others racing did the same, dozen workers
Unearthed three-columned temple, alleged
Door was window sealed. Then all efforts
Ceased, fears for ancient curse, offending
Gods unknown, priestess’ meditations
Ichor turned, vexed and troubled mind.

Who is this protecting priestess?
She was derived from the vividly painted “Statuette of Seated Woman,”
“City of Gold: The Archaelogy of Polis Chrysochous, Cyprus,” edited by
William A.P. Childs, et al, Princeton University Art Museum, Yale University
Press, New Haven, London, 2013, pp. 50-51. For more on this statuette,
see this link (and scroll down): http://www.archeolog-home.com/pages/content/polis-chrysochous-arsinoe-city-of-gold.html
For more on mysterious goddess Hekate, see this link:
http://www.theoi.com/Khthonios/Hekate.html
Thanks for reading.

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