"Erechtheion, Porticoes of Caryatids," Vasily Polenov, 1882, WikiArt photo.
“Erechtheion, Porticoes of Caryatids,” Vasily Polenov, 1882, WikiArt photo.

Part 1: Ilithya’s Maiden Voyage

Relentless seas, Ægean villages prospered
And crumbled, each given shares of earth,
Warring tribes victorious and defeated,
Heroes and histories legend-faded. Yet,
Amongst marketplaces whispers stirred
On gathering winds, rumors resurrected
From Abdera to Thebes, shepherds watering
Flocks at Cyprus springs witnessed columns
Emerged from grasslands, painted porticoes
Exposed. Once time-sealed, bronze doors of
Ancient temple were unhinged, remains of
Sacred oracle revealed, desiccated bones
And papyri scrolls disclosed secrets beyond
Greek Mycenaean age.

Worshiper unrest arose first in Corinth and
Then to Athens spread, holy priests to select
Three amongst them for Cyprus pilgrimage.
Rustic rituals and solemn prayers, burnt
Offerings to gods of Pantheon. First priestess
Was ordained until light divine cast on Ilithya,
Maiden-novitiate, child of Attic farmers, face
Burnished bronze, eyes ablaze with godly sight,
She stepped forward, self-proclaimed, nimbus
Head-glowing. Lo! Ilithya knew not oracular
Incantations nor ceremony, yet to merchant
Sailing ship she boarded, bread and fruit for
Three-day voyage, naive child, venturing
Unprepared on cresting ocean waves.

"Irene," William Adolphe-Bouguereau, 1897, WikiArt photo.
“Irene,” William Adolphe-Bouguereau, 1897, WikiArt photo.

For those born on earth but laboured on Ægean
Seas, storming clouds and gusty winds were
Sailing on white wings. O! Ilithya, by heaving
Brine and salt spray her mettle was so tested,
To crawl amongst mid-decks, cowering in
Pitching seas or to stand in faith, tempests on
The beam, when gods had abandoned men,
Stolid sailors held true the course. Her mind
Turned upon itself, this Ilithya had witnessed,
Awakened at the helm, such were her sea pas-
Sions, unwary in gaze and deed, heeling hard
Toward distant Cypriot mountains, plowing
Wine-dark waves, by prayers to gods, city of
Kourion they landed, shield-harbour made.

Adventures unfurling with new female character, Ilithya, daughter
of Attic farmers, novitiate priestess, thrust by gods into discovery
of an ancient oracular temple. Who and what will she encounter?

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