"Slave Market," Jean-Leon Germone, circa 1866, WikiArt photo.
“Slave Market,” Jean-Leon Germone, circa 1866, WikiArt photo.

Part 2: Aphrodite’s Statue Restored

O! Muse sing of Aphrodite, beauty rising from
Storming seas, nude body of slave girl, olive
Skin, knowing eyes, shackle-abraded ankles,
Life-breath restored by Neokles, food and
Clothing offered, thoughts, secrets shared:
Goddess’ purity but not virginity restored,
Romance unfolding on Isle of Naxos, marble
Statue found, arms and legs in disarray.
Aphrodite as “Ayte” accompanied Neokles
And fisher folk to gather damaged limbs.
Merchant ship at anchor, seashore camp
Made, except for Neokles and Ayte slept
Beside toppled statue of love goddess.

Whilst bodies of Ayte and Neokles entwined
On Naxos overlooking Ægean Seas, starry
Heights they rose, amongst orbs of planets
And silvery moon. Well-spread couch awaited
Them, skin-draped of bears and roaring lions,
Beasts Neokles dreamt in Thracian mountains
Killed. Upon lofty bed they reclined, Goddess’
Brooch and jewelry removed, bright raiment
Loosened, falling to slender legs and feet.
Aprhrodite and mortal man, womb-planted
Seed, life restored to her statue, arms and legs
Reassembled on love’s earth-quaking night [1].

What trespasses did Aphrodite and Neokles
Commit? Love-kindled flames rising high
To Pantheon of gods. Shepherd-saved slave
Girl, her death predestined on storming
Seas, now bearing Neokles’ child, she laid
God-accursed on grassy clifftops, nurturing-
Place of Zeus. Trumpets sounded not in
Glory, but re-heralding fates beyond Aphrodite’s
Reach, for she enabled love-twisted delights:
Wresting Neolkes from family, safety of forested
Hills, to rebirth of Ayte from ever-surging seas.

"Nude," Gheorghe Tattarescu, WikiArt photo.
“Nude,” Gheorghe Tattarescu, WikiArt photo.

Her statue reassembled aboard merchant
Ship, to Ilse of Milos they sailed.  Aphrodite,
As slave girl, clung close to Neokles, wrath
Of immortal gods she feared. Zeus she had
Offended, metamorphosis of dead body,
Animated without its soul. Upon Milos, the
Goddess’ statue was erected, commanding
Boundless seas. One last night Neokles and
Aphrodite laid together, love of wind and
Wine. As Aphrodite returned to airy heights,
Final fates were realized. By Zeus, Ayte was
Lightning-struck, her body forfeited, storm-
Swallowed by vengeful seas.

Abandoned on Naxos Isle, Neokles wandered
Without benefit of goddess or of Ayte. Ended
Was his inclination to follow distant melodic
Refrains, as doing so led to pathos and to
Tragedy. For now, his struggles efforts are
Returning to seclusion of Thracian forested
Hillsides. Alas! He found cave where Zeus
Was raised. What mischief lies within?

1.  This poem was challenging to write as it contained Homeric
“concept” found in “Hymn to Aphrodite” (HH-V), where Anchises,
mortal man, unwittingly slept with the goddess, who gave birth
to Æneas, connected to the epithet “ainos” (awful). For more on
this, see pages 419 and 420 in Hugh G. Evelyn-White’s translation.

Social profiles