"Three Graces," Carle van Loo, 1763, Wikipedia photo.
“Three Graces,” Carle van Loo, 1763, Wikipedia photo.

Part 3: Kandaké Sacrificed

Smothering sandstorms, dark forces ushered
Desert clouds, burying those denying Atalanta.
First to perish were “Three Graces” – Beauty,
Charm, and Joy – flame consumed, as were
Crops and farmlands, arid winds of perpetual
Damning heat, carnage sea-stranded Kandaké
Witnessed, heart pained, her mind connected
To Atalanta, only refuge for mankind was
Kandaké’s burning-brambled shore.

Sorrow upon sorrow, hundreds lined surf-wet
Sands of Kandaké’s beach, meandering lines,
Hand-holding, praying to gods they knew and
Trusted before darkness eclipsed their faith.
In angered fear, forsaken demanded sacrifice.
They blamed Kandaké, touch-tasting Atalanta’s
Skull, pushing her into ocean, to carnivorous
Fish, thousand flesh-tearing bites, Kandaké’s
Body reduced to surf-sloughing bloody bone.

O! Shameful mortal deeds, blaming innocent
Maiden, no stain upon her soul, Kandaké was
Their salvation had unfaithful relied on patient
Prayer. All left was free-floating hair, sand half-
Buried skull and clothes, starry eyes fish-eaten.
Dark daughter of oceans Kandaké became. In
Remorse, trees wept, leaves ground falling,
Stark branches reaching heavenward in vain,
Fair sunlight lost to tears of clouded grief.

"Portrait of an Old Woman," Guido Reni, 1630, WikiArt photo.
“Portrait of an Old Woman,” Guido Reni, 1630, WikiArt photo.

Yet wine-dark Libyan Sea contained strengths
And depths beyond what Atalanta fathomed,
Entire seaside cities earthquake swallowed. Her
Domain limited to trackless desert sand, Atalanta
Breathed again not by providence but by deceit,
Blasphemy of ancient scriptures she twisted to
Detriment of mankind. Desert goddess gave no
Heed that raging seas washed sands asunder,
Rarely releasing her wave-drowned dead.

Alas! Beloved Kandaké is neither dead nor gone,  nor
is Atalanta. If the sea relinquishes one death, it claims
another. According to Hesiod’s Theogony, “For a
s many
as were born of Earth and Ocean amongst all t
hese she
[Hecate] has her due portion.” Those honours due Hecate
are afforded equally to Kandaké.   

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