Part 2: Ilithya Meets Dolius

"Priestess of Delphi," John Collier, 1891, Wikimedia photo.
“Priestess of Delphi,” John Collier, 1891, Wikimedia photo.

Where divine wisdom and hope exist, life
Should be without strife, cruelties of war,
Miseries of wives and families. Such were
Oracles of antiquity, far-seeing prophets
Of deific reach, providing solace to war-torn
Supplicants, barren fields turned fertile,
Adjudging causes righteous and profane.
Who can sacrifice to extremes, mortal frame
Stretched twixt earth and airy heights? Blessed
Equally as accursed, sacred oracular minds
Were fume-inflamed, their declarations and
Bones held in unearthed temple. In Cyprus,
Ilithya began her foot pilgrimage, prayerful
Verses offered on rising mountain trails.

"Head of an Old Man," Guercino, WikiArt photo.
“Head of an Old Man,” Guercino, WikiArt photo.

Overlooking cloud-swept skies of Kourion,
Shepherd hermit, cloaked and grey-bearded,
Greeted Ilithya: “Priestess, I am Dolius,” he
Stated, deep bowing, forehead touching her
Sandaled feet, recognition of her bronzéd
Brow. “Hard is to discern all that one’s eyes
Sees,” he added. “Truly marvels eyes behold
On this pilgrimage,” Ilithya responded, gazing
Upon gathering faithful. She knew not that
Life-size statue of Apollo, sunlit bronze, stood
On marble pediments at temple entrance.
So touched by his divine glory, living tribute
To Apollo Ilithya had become, glowing day long
Until setting sun was couched on ocean waves.

"Pythagoreans Celebrate Sunrise," Fyodor Bronnikov, 1868, Wikipedia photo.
“Pythagoreans Celebrate Sunrise,” Fyodor Bronnikov, 1868, Wikipedia photo.

O! Innocent child, Ilithya prayed on sunny
Escarpments, far from home of flowered
Meadows and wheat fields wind-waving. By
Firelight she met with pilgrims, sharing fruit,
Figs, watered-wine, hymns by lute and lyre,
They sang beneath firmament of stars, light
Of waxing moon, climbing heavenward as
They prepared to reach temple of the oracle.
During nightly dreams, Ilithya’s arms and
Legs pale-stiffened. Not until facing warmth
Of rising sun did use of her extremities return,
Concerns of Dolius for this maiden of bronze
As he assisted Ilithya to her numb feet, heavy
And useless as  base metal.

Experiencing divine transformation, the closer Ilithya
approaches the oracular temple, more profound her
changes will be in spirit of “The Metamorphoses of Ovid.” 

Everything, therefore, seemed quite different to [Ilithya] —
the long straight tracks, the harbours, the precipices, and
the goodly trees,  appeared all changed as [she] stared up
and [dreamed about] her native land. — Adapted from
Homer’s “Iliad,” Ulysses Returning to Ithaca.

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