*Odysseus' Face*

Bloody Oath!

Before too long we were cruising the coastline of Thrinakia. Helios, the ruler of bright noon, kept exceptionally fat, beautiful herds of cows and sheep. We could all see them roaming over the lush isle. I turned to my crew and ordered that we sail on into the night and past fatal dangers foretold to me by Teiresias.

"Holy Zeus, Ruler of Olympos!" cursed Eurylokhos, "What in Hades do you think you are asking us to do? Do you think we are perhaps made of iron? You may be an iron maiden, but we have got to eat and rest."

The other crew nodded in angry agreement. They also clearly needed the time to grieve their recently killed companions. However, the circumstances boded grave ill. I looked out over their faces desperate not to lose a single one more.

"What can I do? What can I say? You have me outnumbered. I can only agree to making port here if you swear by all that you hold sacred that you will only eat of the food we have in store from Kirke, and that you will not touch the sun deity's cattle. Is that absolutely clear?"

They all consented to making such an oath and individually spoke the words to my satisfaction. We then found a half moon bay where we anchored the ship and went to shore. Some of my people found fresh spring water to drink with the satsifying meal that the others had cooked in their absence. After the meal we sat around the fire and talked together about our lost friends: what was special about them, what we would miss. We then divided into four shifts to watch through the night.

During the third shift the bright stars were swallowed by a black and fiercesome cloud. At first it only pulled at our hair and clothes, but soon enough it was cutting and tearing through to our skin. The whole crew had to be roused to pull the boat into a grotto where we all huddled knowing that rosy-fingered Dawn would be absent this morning from our eyes and our hearts. We would not be leaving that morning.

"Remember the cattle here are for the sun deity alone. We must be satisfied with our stores or face dire consequences," I reiterated to my shipmates who nodded their understanding.

Unfortunately, day after day passed with gale after gale pounding the shores. So long as plenty of bread and good red wine fed the crew I did not worry, but all too soon that was gone followed by the barley and Ribena. We scoured the shores for fish and birds to keep ourselves fed, but not enough was to be found.

I slipped out to pray to the deities as to whether there might be some way out of our sad circumstances. After fighting my way through rain and driving winds I found a sheltered spot where I could call out to all that is divine for answers. Shivering in anticipation my only response was a wave of weariness that dropped my eyelids in deep sleep.


You Are What You Eat.

Copyright © 1998 Katherine Phelps