As Achæan men were soldiers, equally were
Wives and daughters, defending home and
Hearth, praying to gods, pained waiting for
Any word, hopes to which we clung, loyalty
Unfading, love, and oft grief, word took
Months to arrive, wounded arriving home,
they brought names of husbands and sons
Killed on foreign fighting fields, from Ætolia
To distant plains of Thessaly.
Smoke of funeral pyres, we asked, “Did you
Bring home anything of him?” Bloodstained
Stone, some tangible memory of his courage
In battle along sea-marching shores. Gaze of
Weary returning soldier’s eyes told horrid
Tales, heart-renting tears, truces to bury
Dead before bodies were despoiled by dogs
And flocks of carrion birds.
Thus, we watched for sailing wings, ships
Not demolished or burned, arriving home
Shores, in heavy silence, wounded laboured
House to house, suffering wives, universal
Conflict, we made household shrines in
Bedroom corners, grief too great to bear,
Wives and daughters persevered, providing
Care to war wounded and infirm.
Since those dismal days, life has continued,
My late husband’s face and voice have faded.
Second husband I now taken, farewell hand-
Shake from seated battle-lost to life anew.
Father to my daughters, we visit that stone
He brought back on that telling day. Linen-
Wrapped, it rests at marble shrine dedicated
To our fallen men and to household gods.
For more on funerary farewell handshake, see this link.
Reminiscent of Penelope and Odysseus, the female
narrator eventually married the wounded soldier who brought her the bloodstained stone.