"Venus," Albert Joseph Moore, 1869, WikiArt photo.
“Venus,” Albert Joseph Moore, 1869, WikiArt photo.

Part 1: Aphrodite’s Statue Destroyed

Quaking islands, collapsing coastlines,
Statue of Aphrodite destroyed, marble
Arms and legs fragmented. Can goddess
Seek aid of mortal man? More supplicant
Than hero, one who honours boundless
Seas, not with heavy rowing oars or wind-
Stretched sails, rather with prayers from
Clifftop safety, lone wanderer with fated
Fortunes to fulfill, such was goddess and
Neokles, shepherd heeding melodic wave-
Songs, reaching from Hellenistic ages to
Thracian meadows, thoughts clear as
Ringing bells of meadow-grazing sheep.

Yet, Neokles’ destiny lay across open brine,
For sacred words touched receptive heart,
Abandoning flocks and family, foolhardy
Quest they reckoned than pilgrimage in
Search of broken marble limbs, goddess
Not seen or worshiped at rustic mountain
Altars, through prayers at rocky glens.
Undaunted, Neokles took to winding trails,
Descending summer grasslands, he knew
Not where or how he would serve Aphrodite,
But walk he must from spruce-clad hills,
Across Thracian plains to River Nestos,
Sea-merchant town of Abdera.

What uncharted course does Neokles follow,
No compass to guide his path? Refrains of
Aphrodite he discerned. Figs and fish she
Provided, shelter for night’s rest. Messenger
Of the goddess Neokles became, his eyes
And mind so taken, securing sailing ship
For her employ. Upon seashores, Goddess’
Love for Neokles kindled, shepherd forsaken
Family whilst heeding calls divine, misfortune
Met with song! As oceans wide mirror heaven,
Aphrodite’s refrains were prayers to Neokles,
Two races merged, mortal and divine, one
Ground-toppled and disgraced, her modest
Chiton gown sea-lost.

"Birth of Venus," Alexandre Cabanel, 1863, WikiArt photo.
“Birth of Venus,” Alexandre Cabanel, 1863, WikiArt photo.

“Sturdy our ship must be,” Aphrodite advised,
“Strong enough to carry my statue to safety of
Milos Island.” By few words, Neokles realized
Goddess’ visions, her marble-self in disarray,
Destined for Milos Island, labours of fishing
Families, oxen carts to employ, reassembled
Resurrection by love-labours, overlooking
Cerulean seas. On waves they sailed, windblown,
Foam-streaked, amphorae of oil and wine. Slave
girl they discovered, flotsam-clinging, lifeless
Body brine-lost. Lo! Neokles would not let her
Die, breathing deep into her, she gasped life
Anew, whispering in rebirth, “Aphrodite am I!”

For more on Isle of Milos statue of Aphrodite, see this link:

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