Almost alluding to a poetic note, a clay plaque found in Olympia – the home to ancient Olympics and feats of athleticism, might just pertain to the oldest known extract of Homer’s epic poem Odyssey. The potential discovery was made courtesy of the three-year-long The Multidimensional Site of Olympia project, a collaborative effort from researchers…
via Archaeologists may have come across the oldest known extract of Homer’s Odyssey — Realm of History
Challenging Gods in all their glory
Remember poor Arachne’s story
compelled to weave eternally
threads on the loom of humanity
as a consequence of her vanity
Being an extract from the log of HMS Fox, brigantine, 9th. Sept. 1869
Awakened at the first bell of the morning watch by Captain of the deck second lieutenant Ffoulkes. Weather fair, sea calm, no fog.
Lookout had reported sighting land on the larboard bow but charts suggest he was mistaken and would face punishment if found to be asleep and dreaming whilst on watch.
Called for my telescope and astonished to see what appeared to be a major town in the distance with houses, rivers and a large abode set high upon a hill.
With First officer, proceeded to check charts and called for a line to be passed down to confirm depth below the keel.
Soundings confirmed depth greater than fifty fathoms. Drew in lead.
Ordered change of course to proceed towards anomaly but before half a league covered lookout reported no land in sight.
Believing it to be apparition or mirage I ordered the ship back to original course to maintain blockade off the coast of Alaska.
Editor’s note. Upon examination of Admiralty records in Greenwich maritime museum, I discovered numerous reports of sightings of ethereal lands and cities off Alaskan coast and Alaskan Indians include such sightings in their mythology. Another mystery of the sea.
the eyeless corpse turns
as the cage swings in the breeze
squawking, the crow flies,
below, wide eyes fill with tears
gazing upon my father
Weary after the strenuous afternoon hike through the hot Greek countryside David and Julie lay down to rest in an effort to escape the relentless Mediterranean sun. David heard his partner’s shallow breathing slowly turn to a gentle snore. He found that he couldn’t sleep, he had the nagging feeling that they were being watched.
Warily he sat up and scanned the valley below. Sure enough, he thought he could see movement. He realised it was an old woman slowly picking her way through the undergrowth. She appeared to be carrying a bundle or basket on her head.
He reached out his left arm and shook Julie gently awake. She remained lying as he pointed out the old woman to her. David thought he would call out and see if the old woman was ok, it was very hot in the afternoon sun. Both of them called out, peering in her direction. There was no reply but they watched her as she started to get closer.
David realised his mistake when he noticed the bundle on her head appeared to be moving. His last thought was disbelief when he saw that her hair was in fact a writhing mass of snakes.
The old woman said
that there is only one way
to remove a wart
bury a toad before dawn
it will be gone by sunset
At four o’clock that morning the stags on the hillside had commenced their belling. The eerie bellowing echoing all around the valley. This morning however Abel was more interested in the loud gasps and cries from behind the skins hanging from the line, forming a curtain which divided the single room in his hovel. Pacing up and down the room he was anxious to know what progress, if any, was taking place with the birth of his second child. Continuously stroking his beard he strained to hear what was happening. At last there was a loud gasp from the assisting nurse followed by the sound of a slap and a loud shriek accompanied the sound of crying. Abel turned then stopped and watched as the nurse raised the skin and silently with sad eyes, looking at the floor, held up a white bundle. Abel knew what this meant and with tears in his eyes grabbed the bundle and turned to the doorway. Outside stood three elders, ready to perform the customary baptism. Taking the rudely wrapped child from Abel’s hands the three started the solemn procession up to the ceremonial site at the head of the Tor. Amidst the granite blocks there was one which formed a natural basin, it’s waters continually replenished by the frequent, heavy Exmoor rains. For long centuries this had been used as the villager’s font where all baptisms had taken place. Abel watched them depart then returning inside, retired to a stool in the corner, where he sat with his head in his hands, the grief he felt for the abomination he had witnessed so great that he had no heart to go in and try to comfort the mother of the newborn. Meanwhile on the hillside the elders arrived at the site and gathering around the stone they held the child up to the rising sun before placing the white mewing parcel into the water. This was to be no ordinary baptism for instead of a brief immersion in the icy waters the child was held under the water till there were seen to be no more bubbles rising. The body was then laid on a bed of grass on the large flat boulder adjacent to the basin stone. The child had been chosen to atone for the tribal perceived sins. The raven and the buzzard would help to consign the child’s spirit to the all-seeing God, where forgiveness may be obtained. Though the only sin this child had committed in it’s brief life was to have been born a girl. A crime worthy of death in the patriarchal society in which she had had the misfortune to enter this life.
Many people have admired the stone pillar at the side of the lane that leads to the medeival church of San Marco in Firsti but but it is only the locals who feel they know the true builders and the reason for it’s curious structure. I will tell you the story that I was told when I was just a boy.
Cardinal Cadenza smiled but it was a cold, humourless expression of his sadistic nature. Turning to the two black-robed, cringing priests he asked them to confirm that the nun Sister Dometia had really confessed to the heresy that appeared to afflict so many of the order known as the. “Poor Clares.” They showed him the scrap of parchment and pointed out the scrawl which was purported to be Sister Dometia’s mark. “That is all I need,” he thought. Pressing his fingers to his lips he thought for a moment and then the decision was made. He had been toying with a new punishment for heretics and this would be the ideal opportunity for him to show these heathen that the work of our Lord was just and transgressors could be shown mercy if they turned from their ways and repented their sins. He ordered the two priests to take the prisoner to the lower cell where the stonemason would be waiting for her. The priests left and descended to the lower dungeon where they found Sister Dometia kneeling in prayer in the corner of her cell. Clad only in a woollen blanket they led her down two flights of steps to the room where they saw the mason and his team waiting. They stood around a wooden coffin and stripping the nun naked they told her to lie down in the coffin. All were impressed that even though she knew her probable fate Sister Dometia maintained her vow of silence and stoically lay on her back, arms folded across her breast, in the coffin. The masons then started to trowel cement into the coffin until only her face was showing. When the coffin was filled with the cold, hard, liquid stone the men all left her in this nightmare situation. In the morning when they returned the cement had set and there only remained a corpse in the coffin. They smashed the wood and stood the pillar upright with the nun’s dead face set in a rictus smile looking out. The pllar was then placed at the entrance to the church as a warning to all.
while hunting in the forest
is beset by thirst
Salmacis looks for his love
in an eternal embrace
Lupinus stopped and raised his right arm. He glanced to right and left sniffing the warming morning air. There was nothing to see on both sides but a mass of dense forest. “I smell woodsmoke,” he explained, “but it may be from an old fire or perhaps more recent. It is quite strong however.” I knew better than to question his judgment, after all that is why he had been chosen to accompany me on the journey. A native of this strange land he seemed to have almost magical senses, hearing, eyesight and smell. His tastes left a lot to be desired, he abhorred fish oil, perhaps he found the smell rather overpowering. He was not averse to the meat from the pheasants that we had introduced though, declaring them to be good, much better than his native avian choices and took every opportunity to attend a meal where he knew pheasant would be on the menu. For this journey though we had brought very little of either, relying on our wineskins and small packs of bread and cheese. After all we would shortly be arriving in Camulodonum. The prefect of the town would be happy to provide sustenance for his unexpected guests from Gaul. We had important news to deliver concerning a local woman. Apparently a strikingly good looking woman but still obviously barbarian in speech and habit. Lupinus had spent the previous day trying to convince me that the women of this island had rights equal to the menfolk, they could even lead armies and make all the decisions that we Romans would not think of entrusting to anyone but members of our Senate. “Nonsense, ” I had scoffed, “they are only good for two things, keeping you fed by day and warm at night, oh, and producing sons of course.” Although even I am inclined to believe that they have a devious nature and are probably secretly laughing at our mistakes, occasionally offering advice that we should be foolish to ignore. It was my turn to feel slightly uneasy, I could smell nothing, let alone see more than ten metres to either side, the trees and undergrowth were so deep. Anyone could be lurking in there, I could even be walking into a trap, after all Lupinus was originally one of these barbarians, he had been hostaged when he was but a young boy and as far as I knew, had never expressed any desire to return to the home of his parents or contact his remaining brothers and sisters. No. I was being unnecesarily wary, I would trust him with my life, but? Anyway only another couple of hours and we would arrive in the town. I was looking forward to a hot bath, a change of clothes and an evening banquet………..
I put the book back into my rucksack. It was a pleasure reading the story of Paulinus. The book was recommended to me as my landlord knew that I would be walking down the same old track that those two unfortunates had taken some two thousand years before. Ironic that the manuscript on which the book was based was recovered from the old cellars. A part of the town that survived the storming by the Iceni. Reading between the lines it appears that they were on the way to warn the Provincial governor that there was a stirring in the North and with the legions away in the far West they should think about shaking the dust off the uniforms and weapons of the local militia. Pity poor Paulinus arrived at about the same time as the good-looking red-haired woman who he thought incapable of anything but cooking and cuddling. That’s the way it goes. Anyway that’s my rest over, time to get walking again before it gets dark, you never know what’s lurking in these woods.