"Aeneas Flees Burning Troy," Federico Barocci, 1598, Wikipedia photo.
“Aeneas Flees Burning Troy,” Federico Barocci, 1598, Wikipedia photo.

Part 1: Athenian Siege of Melos Island

Mother’s diary, daughter’s discovery, papyri
In burial urn, secret accounts of our family,
Two shackled sisters taken as slaves, Ontonia
And Ædeon, from warring Melos Island, sailing
Ship to Athens, families forlorn by death and
Grief, two gold rings bought our freedom by
Woman who adopted us, Kypris, her agéd body
At Kerameikos, we buried today.

What memories scar child’s heart, repressed
Yet lingering, soul marred, without love or
Understanding? By these papyri, our painful
Past was resurrected, Melian parents killed
When Athenians stormed our isle, colony of
Sparta, we remained neutral, avoiding ravages
Of war, arguments presented, differing views,
Dialogues of Athenian and Melian envoys.

Chorus of Thucydides:
O! Unsubdued islanders, what discourse will
Save Melos from destruction? Melian pride and
Honour, such risks for family, military-age men,
Fires raging and fighting, controlling seaways
Between islands, liberty relinquished by spear
And sword, women, children taken into slavery,
Athens destroying homes and villas, orphans
Ontonia and Ædeon in servitude and chains.

As Kypris wrote in her diary, husband, Kasos,
Was amongst Athenian archers, strong armed,
His eye-aim true, arrows loosed, more cruel
Than sea-storm waves, more misery and pain
Grieving wives should bear, Athenian or Melian,
Kasos battle killed, funeral pyre burned, his
Ashes collected by his comrade, Theron, to
Kypris returned, diary burial urn we found.

"Cashmere," John Singer Sargent, 1908, WikiArt photo, for this poem, the Chorus.
“Cashmere,” John Singer Sargent, 1908, WikiArt photo, for this poem, the Chorus.

Chorus of Kasos:
Soul of Kasos to Athens returned, amongst
Scudding lavender clouds, white wings sailing,
Cresting waves skimming, shades of Athenian
Soldiers course retracing, death not realized,
Ushered by guiding winds, shores distant and
Strange, shades unheard, unseen. In dreams he
Reached Kypris, “I am home. I am here.” Grief-
Stricken, Kasos wandered desolate hillsides.


Poetic Characters:
Ontonia and Ædeon – Melos Island sisters sold into slavery in Athens.
Kypris – Athenian, wife of Kasos, rescued sisters.
Kasos – Athenian archer battle-killed on Melos.
Theron – Comrade of Kasos who returned ashes of Kasos to Kypris.
Thucydides – Greek historian who inserted the “Melian Dialogues”
into his “History of the Peloponnesian War.
Chorus – Collective voices in single stanzas providing background
for readers.

See this link on the Melian Dialogues.
For more on the Greek chorus see this link. 

Next is “Part 2: Fragmented Family Recast.”

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