“Slave Market,” Jean-Leon Gerome, 1886, WikiArt.

Part 1: Servitude and Freedom

Nameless child wrested from foaming seas,
Her mother wave-drowned, pallid face, eyes
Water-glazed, shipwrecked slave daughter
On flotsam found, bronze-skin, age twelve,
Nude body mast-chained, suffered pitching
Seas, crashing spray, tormented and teased
By rescuers, modesty repeatedly wounded,
She spoke no language understood, except
Praying to obscure “Mother of Theseus.”

Upon auction block in Port Kythera, girl
Sold for pleasures lewd and labours hard,
Coins in upraised hands, until she cried,
“Æthra, sóse me!”* silencing throng of men.
Discerning ears recognized ancient name,
Elder Dolius, historian, forcing into crowd,
Offering coins of gold, freedom for chain-
Entangled girl, Selva was her name.

Chorus:
Child of ancient sects, veneration of Æthra,
Mother of Theseus, Athens’ living womb,
Seed of Ægeus, double paternity, mortal
And divine Poseidon, son Theseus conceived,
Destiny found beneath stone pillar, father’s
Sword and sandals. What fates confront
Dolius and Selva, what discoveries beneath
Ancient stone? Alas! Captive child of Æthra,
By Dolius her freedom was regained.

"Theseus and Æthra," Laurent de La Hyre, 1635, Wikipedia photo.
“Theseus and Æthra,” Laurent de La Hyre, 1635, Wikipedia photo.

Admittance to Dolius’ house, Selva given
Fine linen gowns, bracelets to hide healing
Shackle marks. From servitude to library,
Ancient papyri they studied. Languages
Archaic, Selva became Dolius’ eyes, writing
Deciphered, faded and minute, by lantern
Light they studied. Master found mention
Of urns buried in Kriti highlands, wells
Known by Selva’s shepherding family.

* “Æthra, save me!”

For more on Æthra, see this link. What parallels
exist if any between parentage of Theseus and
another religion? What are where is Kriti?
This chorus opened with a string of prepositional
phrases. 

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