Overview: From the Isle of Taphia, at just left of center as we reckon its mapped location by the satellite image above presented, we also have Cephalonia Island at lower left, the Small Gulf of Ambrakia above the later Nomos of Arkanania, and the Upper Achelöos and Wilderness Wilds at descent from the Pindus Mountains which compose the upper right hand corner of the image. Lake Trichonis and the Maw of the Great Gulf, therefore, are depicted in the lower right hand corner.
The depiction approximates variously featured geomorphology as it most likely may be reckoned to have been at the beginning of the Thirteenth century BC. But look very closely, for what our readers may be able to discern is an articulation of Arkanania at west of the Debouche of the Achelöos River –and below the Small Gulf – which almost renders it an island. It may interest them that the Bardot Group, by legacy bestowed to myself, its stalwart translator of their writ, make a rigorous case that Arkanania was once a true island. It was, in fact as much as theory can be rendered rigorously, the Island of Atlantis, for so long considered a primordial seat of a far ranging sea power that preceded Crete of imperial Minoan fame.
Lëda Becomes Sophisticated Perforce:
The Long Turmoil’s last six years sustained successively successful retaliations against Peleus and Atreus. The Great Gulf remained ignominious regardless that warfare. The new coastal settlement of Agrinion became a more permanent sprawl —by integration of marshlands forage, fishing and dense birding locations. These interconnected along the swollen estuary of the Achelöos River’s lower coils, amidst and off which deep feeding sloughs of brackish water domain. Nutrient flows arriving from the River’s upstream rapids heaved soil burdens down that entire channel serving perfect aviary and spawning runs of fishy migrations. After so many years of direct service to the crews, the Arakyndians who dominated all that ecology resumed their annual spring treks eastward and down the Lake Trichonis’ south shore for their sprawling summer camps. There clan and phratry meets offered congregation with other highland tribes upon the flatland eastern shore. For that hospitable pleasance was a primary concession of the Arakyndians to foreignersf from their entire Aetolian Brotherhood —itself mostly composed from alpine, piedmont and woodlands habitat for the oldest tribes of High Wilderness, such as characterized a western extension of the Pindus Mountain Range so central to the Greek Peninsula.
Overview: A depiction of the lazy, often calm, ever sluggish débouche of the Achelöos River. A composition of frothy brush over sand and mud spits that penetrated southerly into the Great Gulf. Forested small peninsulas lay out to the east of backwater ponds here and along River’s upstream extent. The view is SSE across the breadth of the debouche, with rolling summer dry hills in the foreground, many more of them and dales behind the photographer, all cloaked with live and deciduous Oaks.
Lëda declaimed at length about those six summers to her young islander hero Laërtes. For the eastern lake shore was forbidden him at visiting her, whereas they became such close friends over all over seasons of the year.
“I enjoyed those pleasant months in the exclusive company of the Brotherhood, even if our old habits of encampment must often resume too late for the traditional summer customs of my people at hosting of the summer meets. The other tribes rebuffed us even as I was so glad to have myself become well-known to our high [estates] of womanhood, just as my mother had enjoyed belonging to them. A nagging sense of the Brotherhood at alienation from my teeny tiny tribe distressed me. The east end of the Lake should have been happiest time for all the tribes at congregation. We were safe within an Idyll, and inclined to be very generous to the islanders who were enabling us. I also shouldn’t complain about any personal slights, since I was borne off my mother’s highest place and stature and knew from the camps that I would become somehow graciously bestowed to my people’s Fates, which is to say for all the Highlanders.
Figure: Lake Trichonis, Eastern Shore at Dusk, After a Rain Shower
This depiction is by an early evening after a dense but brief twilight rain shower. Its mists extend afar eastward along the Lake, whose far end is marshlands and winding deep soughs. While a modern photograph, it offers realistic suggestion of where many summer encampments weaved and wended beneath the foreground shrubbery. There’s only meager suggestion of the small meadows within which evening gathering of all camps could draw together into congregations or “meets,” whereby the acculturation of the Aetolians by word of mouth of their ancestral legacies.
She went on to say, “Besides, cool evening air always descended from the mountain surrounds, often as afternoon mists coming upon our encampments from the western foothills over Arkanania. The relief from the hated torpor and heat of the southern sand-spits required a lot of wading and swimming daytimes, but there was so much to enjoy of long evenings lasting far into nighttime for every summer and early autumn day. I had to lead the many hard yet necessary chores of gathering in the weirs at the west end of the Lake, at storing larder for the winter, racking dried fish and jerked game catches out the seasonal; abundance. That required a lot of rafts that floated the west end sloughs, so many of which served outlet from the Lake’s reliable water rises by flush of rainfall off the High Wilderness. Our constancy afloat the fishing rafts prepared the tribal vitals for the massive replenishment of larder that we cured and stored by as timely to the hard months of the long wet season of wintertime.
“Our summer camps gave me, perhaps to only myself alone, a feeling for the Brotherhood, and for Highlanders in general wherever their remote co-existences so marvelously unifying them. We are a single nation race in isolation from Laughlanders and all coastal peoples. Only my Arakyndians were a coastal highland people by its two gulfs that flow into the seas. There were many festivals of the Elders where other tribes were the guests of my own. Or a day or two would be spent in travelling the traverses northeastward, where congregate tribes and hunting phratries would provide generous greeting and feast to my Arakyndians.
We are a companionable people, at our best in large gatherings, by which the small ones that proved most intimately the best by both hosting and visiting clans. By then, I also remember, I’d mostly forgotten the special place that women are allowed throughout the entire summer season.
“Once I had felt sad for never knowing my father. But as I became familiar with all the women who were the heart of our highland unity, I forgot about him amidst so many new friendships of maidens my age. They were excited for me, gave me a sense of my nearing best prospects – what my mother would have enabled my sisters and me. Of course, their mothers made me briefly their adopted daughter to nurture and foster, removing me at last from the tedious company of old women, with whom I’d had to share tribal governance while my still immature years.
“Not that I was ungrateful to them while earliest a maiden. The Elders emerged in summer as our revered spiritual leaders. The foremost among them were diligent in imparting our beliefs of longest tradition. Customs, rituals and honors from farthest past times refreshed those old crones’ spirits. They lost their ague and feebleness, could think instead of exultant moments and moods from their own youth in general to all highland womanhood. It took some time to instill them in me, but I finally got to their sense and mood attuned to the Goddess Beasts Wild and her daughter, the Huntress Maiden of an eternal youth and age, which I too achieved as a very mortal seventeen year old chieftainness. Until then, or after my maiden initiation, I’d been disallowed their most secret woodland cult venerations of matrons and maiden newlyweds [nymphs] respective to all the major venerations of Highlanders.
“I had grown to an age to become a willing and understanding listener of my sex’s high and most elite responsibilities. I remember all those times well, but for the first time at understanding what the recitations intended of my own elite place, wherefrom the strong feelings expressed of matron highlanders everywhere appreciated as the perpetuity of our united nation race.”
“So Crones and matrons would rise solemnly in the light of the campfires and discourse upon the ancestresses and the beliefs of our highland beginnings. I learned to an ardent faith how the Earth Goddess Go, the Creatrix of all living things, somehow wrought from water and rock and air all about us; that the wilderness creatures, however, were the primary denizens of her renewing energies each day, as embodied in the Goddess Beasts Wild, a daughter of manifest immanence. In the deepest wilds she was as myself, a Huntress Maiden constantly at chaste midwifery of all first deliveries by human and animal. Among settlements of humankind, for the most part, she was the Goddess Beast Wild all alone, alike a goddess whom the Islanders revere as Hestia, the Mother-at-Welcome for all Highlanders brought together for holy communion of each other.
Hostess Goddess Hestia demanded our protection of all oppressed strangers, or suppliants unto us, whereby our beliefs in guests created from generous visitation at provision to us. There was, also, the Goddess Themis the ForeCounselor: She commanded the abiding love between our scattered tribes, whether of highland or lowland, our unity abiding ever since Gaia’s creation. No matter how far away and apart the home mountains of our tribes, we must revere our insistence upon being a single nation race. Just as insistently, the Goddess Themis nourished the devotion of women to Renewal through their procreation and their nurture of children, and through self-renewal upon the weaning of babes through her most special revitalizing strengths.”
The evening congregations and the sometimes greater meets offered special significance and highest dignity to Leda even then. She learned that she had heritage and legacy by divine boon to her arch-ancestresses. She still greatly missed her mother because she felt so acutely the shame and evil inherent Eurythemis foreshortened lifetime, solely accounted to her trust and welcome of strangers. Lëda always could bring back afresh the few memories gained during those languorous, last summer days among kinfolk who had known her mother well. Leda wanted to shower the affection of that lost mother upon her own people, dwarfed as they were, and upon children of her kith and kin. Themis’ boon, it seems, offered some special consolation to mothers deprived of their own, who either had left them abandoned early in life or otherwise must desert them for some greater good that lay behind an unwilled deprivation. The Goddess was the mother of orphans, therefore.
The Erymanthian Highlander Mentör, our foremost contemporary chronicler who was born to tribe just across the Leap over the Great Gulf, knew not that faith as his own. And yet there always lurked within him the pain of my own mother’s loss to the agonies sustained from her failed deliverance of my sister. The Mother Muse Mnemosynë proved instead a sole consolation of his embittered loneliness since his age eight years old. He owed nothing to the Goddess ForeCounselor Themis, and he had not her gifts of prescience by which to best appreciate her. And yet only from him do we known the heroine of greatest renown from Aetolia’s prehistory.
Going back to the summer of her eleventh birthday, Leda began to learn of her considerable allure to men. They constantly tried to capture her eyes with their own. The young tribesmen of the “foreign” encampments could be seen to be discussing her avidly with admiring smiles. She felt the first strong indications of an emerging figure of maiden. Somewhat ungainly at first, by next summer’s end she was maturing far more rapidly than girls her age whom she met at the Meets. She grew tall, shapely, and finally voluptuous by her age fifteen —just when first met with Laërtes, who made instantaneously known how bedazzling she appeared to him. Like all girls of a most especial loveliness, born in any and whatever eons, she felt that first warm relief that fortune [Providence] had provided her fullest potential for great beauty and constant perfect health.
She still had not yet absorbed as real that she was of especially high birthrights, so deemed under the tribal standards of relative status adjudged by women who knew each other exalted. Had her mother lived, her teachings along with the observed deference of other matrons towards Eurythemis would have taught Leda that she carried highest bride price withal some major hereditary legacy and sacral majesty bestowed by her matrilineage.
First insights came two springs later, when attained past her eighteenth birthday. The intervening couple of years, of course, had brought to the Estuary many more visiting sailors, some of which, like Laërtes as their earliest forerunner, clearly ranked much higher than most of the ships’ command echelons. No longer at command apprenticeship, Laërtes said outspokenly that he appraised her worthiest of a best possible husband. He said so as a believer (likely by what his own father Arceisius imparted him) that her natural father had been the Great Prince Thyestes, formerly of imperial Argolis, who had cuckolded her father Thestios. That put aside as unproven, many fellows exactly her age wanted to befriend her intimately, causing her considerable anxiety over their odd forwardness and easy assumption that she should demean herself for them. All of those cheeky teenagers were entirely new to the great galleys’ routines; Laërtes had to explain to her how their forthcomings to the crews since the conscription of all lads age sixteen and older into the new war navies of his father Arceisius’ Great Gulf League. That they showed themselves too blatantly low young men, or they were mostly lowly of birth in fact, had helped Laërtes at his explanations of whom she would most deserve. Almost needless to say, Lëda would easily learn by herself that he was a truly ennobled seafarer, and most certainly so deemed highest over their command echelons. Only that he was acclaimed the Child Chief missed out from her knowledge of Laërtes.
Neither she, nor he, had learned what a highest majesty composed from, and how most graciously made manifest through determinations of persons who could adjudge its quality. What had to suffice for their friendship with each other was that they could sense a highest majesty as suddenly and obviously appearing to them.
Laërtes remained her most regular and intimate friend off the transient ships, certainly more so than the other command apprentices could attain of amity. The small difference in their ages must have mattered importantly, as though a goad of acute shyness over their sexual appeal to each other, although it shouldn’t have and yet did. It was shyness more felt by him than by her, whereas it was merely inhibiting of his felt appeal to herself despite otherwise finding him so appealing. The youngest shipmates by that year’s conscription Yearlings – all newest conscript recruits and yet volunteers so still called. They were not as he’d been as a lad of only twelve years, because even so early he’d proved to the crews and commands both brighter and far more self-controlled than any highest born fellows off the Islands –young men who owned privilege to learn their way into captaincies over great galleys that their fathers would provide them, or afford from their maritime commerce. Such fellows, even as they had taken an immediate, awed interest in Lëda, had greatly underestimated her. Laërtes, perhaps most of all once his age fourteen become, knew for a certainty that she was special by then attained sixteen years old. She had achieved her most formal and grandest years of royal maidenhood just afterwards. He knew the true estimation of who she was, most likely would become next, of highest highland status.
Mentör learned from Laërtes his admission of a crush for a girl only two years older than him, but of age and appearance crushingly stifling of his any expression of his warmest friendship for her. For how huge that age must have seemed to a still growing, perhaps gangling lad! He was totally smitten, nonetheless, and must have shown himself so.
Lëda recall herself compelled to say at last to him, somewhat in hindsight, “To such good lads as thou hast been fro me, Laërtes, I learned to show my appreciation for the total pleasantness which thy captains and crews have brought to our once imperiled lives, to know to each other’s ways well and safely, to hope that we’d somehow be forever together. Several of us older girls played dutiful to lads your age and to those nearer to their final comings-of-age. But I never dared to accost you that way
“Men at first have reacted overly warmly to me, offensively so. Because of thee I’ve known their language well, so I knew how to keep them distant and humble towards me. I even speak at thine own eloquence quite a bit better than most of the tribes. I’ve also thought, of course, that the lads’ special interest in me was supposed that unto an esteemed hostess, by a distance meant for granted, a simple match of their gallantry to what’s long been disposed to us both since little children, or for granted to our little ages. And yet even as you now lead all the coastal protectors from the Isles vouchsafed us from thy father, Great Lord and Wanax Arceisius, I knew you exalted much earlier as lithe lad sure to become a man fullest of Majesty.
“I’ve even had to learn with extreme agony that you, once a best lad of all, now deem me a girl no longer. I know that fellows my age or much older than thee would accost me with lust. I know that you are shy of me, even as I am of you as both islander and commanding seafarer. In all those years before, the island lads had seemed an easy, close company, unafraid of me and maidens just younger than me. We teased them, hugged them and chased around with them naked. We used to like flirting with them flagrantly, and to practice thereby our few arts of enticement as learned from each other as most likely to have effect! Those lads were so very yielding, so interested too! We girls had such hilarious fun bestirring them afresh to hot ardor of us! There’d also be the silly pretend games when we’d draw them away from the landfall to swim with them naked in the pools and sloughs. I’d act the graceful forester, or a marsh dweller, or even a little priestess. Our customs of play had also been strictly fixed: girls always determined whatever the games played; and we commanded the lads as though our minions. For such we were often enough, while also rough ruffians over the boys.”
“Until I met you. A lord of seafarers. Then, all of a sudden, that sort of reckless play could last no longer. Then too, simultaneously, all near and below my age became absolutely prohibited from thy lads. But not I myself from you: I just became too shy to make a flirty pastime of you. Too, you knew earliest that I was respected for some suddenly exalted status imposed upon your ilk! That new distance contrived between natural playmates has been distressing fro me, a learning hard to bear. It’s so obviously a consequence of the savage jealousies of my tribe towards what’s best by you, our protectors, and perceived by them just exactly so. Thus all has become wrong, terribly wrong, between us, Laërtes! It shouldn’t be that we are now so shy of each other!
Somehow thy men, thy crews, have learned that I’m the daughter of a highest revered woman among the Highlanders who still live these environs. I have not known, but most certainly know now, that their curiosity and growing affection for me had been severely admonished and forbidden them by their captains. Why, I’ve had to learn, must Highland women not even to be touched! And thou are by that admonishment, too, my dearest, cherished lad, just because our tribesmen, and now the crews, must shrug off most all us women of initiate age and older. They can only know me as strictly obedient to the emerging deference which their captains are now commanded to accord me.
“That’s shouldn’t have happened for us, Laërtes, that shouldn’t be allowed to happen any longer. We know ourselves too well. We should wonder where our affections shall at last take us. And yet we dare no seduce each other”
Laërtes had to agree with how that had become so. But he interrupted her to say so:
Still, it’s good that we remain prohibited, köra-Lëda, but should that limit be achieved, it will no longer be ever again for us. But we can’t go all the way yet. Howsoever we are still so befitting to each other, and feel each other so, I shall be much less frequent at visiting thee hereon. The tides of the great warfare next impending bring us both new duties that entirely separate us.”
She’d nodded in understanding, but not with assent; and then she explained her own hard truths to bear, having known them since the end of that particular summer while the close friends were apart each other:
“I’m awaiting, Laërtes, the special initiations and preparations of our Queen Holy Mother, for her next tour to meet girls grown of ages attained seventeen and older years. My high birth still continues to be ignored by the Tribe itself, but the Brotherhood is aware of my birthrights to earn such a visitation, or an invitation to make quest of our venerated Nemesis. The elders fear my parting from them; the tribe then may be adjudged as no longer [viable], befitting only its meld with another. I found this summer, from conversation with my aunt-Klytia, an awakening of me. She asked me with formal deference many questions about what I knew or did not know of the Genos, the whole of it by both mainland divisions of the Great Land.
“Did I realize,” she’d queried, “that upon the next visit of hiera-Nemesis I shall be considered carefully for my arrived stature among the Brotherhood, and not just as a chieftainess’ daughter among the meagerly surviving Arakyndians? To become, perhaps briefly, a postulant to the Huntress Maiden, and if not, later to be drawn into exclusive service to the Queen Holy Mother herself? I could only acknowledge to my aunt how that might become so, and must suffice for me by any prospect. What better answer have I? None better, I guess, for Aunt Klytia followed my reply of acquiescence with many compliments of my activities in behalf of the Arakyndians and Agrinion. It seems that I have some fame within the tribes of the higher traverses. I’m even responsible for why we’re so greatly empowered through thy naval leagues’ protection of us, and the importance of thy family so close to us as all sea-goers fare hereabouts river’s end.
All-of-a-sudden, very sorrowfully, she gushed greatest praise of me in particular! She flattered my alertness and readiness, commended my facility at all tasks assigned to me, and talked about my gentility as a leader of the many fine captains much older than me.
“Lëda,” her aunt-Klytia had said, “You’re entirely your mother’s daughter, my dearest marriage-sister: You’re modest, diligent, warm-hearted and ever generous of nature. Just as she was a superb example to all young mothers, so too thou hast been for our many orphaned children by Arakyndia. Th’art a maiden with promise to exceed all the others of thy legacy, even those of thine exaltation so much older than thyself.”
“I was flattered but also stunned, Laërtes,” she’d replied: “You can tell that by my exact memory of aunt-Klytia’s words. Not that I believed all she said. She professed that I had the affections of my father, her brother. I had to shame her that he’d never visited us once my mother was ravaged and disappeared. She could only confess his omissions, speak her own anger over him most tearfully, most miserable for all the undeserved neglect. She finally said that my father was not born of us, never had been adopted, and never would be considering his haughty conduct. He wanted to be a Phocian prince, because his mother he regarded a princess.
“That one aunt, no more than a summertime acquaintance, has up to last summer been highly reserved about any new-found pride of the highland tribes in some unspoken good reputation of mine amidst the Arakyndians. So she next explained what a postulant to Nemesis stood to become. Besides being conducted into certain mysteries, much more important than mine by maidenhood’s first proofs, I would have opportunity to provide service of a nature as only Potnia Nemesis could explain or offer in earnest to me. I might become a candidate to take my place as a Sibyl to the Oracle of Themis, our Great Mother of prophetic gifts. My gifts of mind and soul hardly have betokened the gift of a seeress, however. Few of my tribe, moreover, had shown that most desirable of all grants of grace.
“I’ve only known that I have my own very good fortune to be grateful for, even though an orphan by sole survival from my mother and older sisters. But no gift has yet been perceived near ahead for myself.
“If not that highest service, I could become instead a postulant to the holy women who lead the devotional duties of the Highlanders from our Sanctuary of Doris, or from other ritual precincts which are just as highly esteemed. But no, aunt-Klytia reflected aloud at last: That would waste my regal nature by my esteemed mother! My aunt called her a queen to bear queens, and would have proved herself so, likely most eminently, had my sisters lived to the age of a formal reckoning from Potnia Nemesis.
“I’ve kept my silence, but shall not from you, Laërtes. I fear her, though, notwithstanding she means so well for me, feels duty of observances towards me. I dread on her account the thought of any far distant regal bearing aloof my people. I can’t see myself yet a happy mother at conducting myself as aunt-Klytia has declaimed of my next most likely sacral offices. But I must acquiesce, because hiera-Nemesis shall convince me that’s best.”
She was far ahead of me on all such doubts. “My good birth and tribal service,” she finally declared with confidence, “shall likely lend me another, very rare privilege. That would be that I become a treated queen, but first an ordained Highland Princess of hereditary sacral majesty, long vetted as so a heroine, and thus eligible to troth a royal lowlander. My father is supposed to be currying the favors of some distant Prince, grooming him as though a stallion for the best breeding of me. Our wilderness being so vast, our borders having so many low country kings as our neighbors, Potnia Nemesis alone shall know best about any such destined prince. To whose majesty of realms I shall become betrothed I shall also hope to learn soon. He’d hardly be in hiding from me if he could prove yourself.
“I’m so sad about us, Laërtes. Art thou not a prince among thine own? Why not a marital alliance beyond the tribes that I dread, especially the weakling men among them. Why would the Potnia chance me upon a distant foreigner? And why may I earn the most highly honored commandment that the Queen High Mother can demand of maidens properly come-of-age.”
According to Laërtes’ later knowledge, as the Long Turmoil was coming to an end that nobody could believe true, their final intimacy by shared confessions of their futures must conclude with an apology from her aunt-Klytia that she herself had been so inattentive to Lëda. There had been copious tears of felt remorse shed for her own inadequacies, and for the Brotherhood’s failures during the Long Turmoil. Her gaze of regretful resignation excluded any need for her to ask forgiveness. She, too, was still a young woman. Lëda could recognize another burdened tribeswoman as soon as seen, by opportunity to know that condition well.
“`But Nemesis is good,’ my aunt-Klytia had at last said: `She shall explain all to a young girl of thy finest standing, Lëda.’
“I must take faith in the supposition that the Queen Holy Mother, in proper time, shall grant a guidance to my best destiny by my ordained Fates. Still, I can only feel desolated by Aunt-Klytia.”
That was, perhaps, a last time of truly intimate conversation between the Wanax and Lëda, remembered from the year of the Battle of Four Mountains when soon they must depart from each other with an understanding of final separation. The Wanax was about to become, and become famous as, the Child Chief of the Cephallenes. Acting that year as naval adjutant, essentially a commodore by appointment of the Great Sisyphus, so too he was regarded, and treated, commander-in-chief of full naval force bestowed from his father. For Arceisius had all he could do to create and armada to end the warfare by fullest invasion possible of the Isthmus upon its Great Gulf shoreline. So Laërtes built all the fighting man-at-arms and trained crews at arms, while his father performed all necessary logistics to have them board his fleets at armada in time for an autumn investiture of the Isthmus.
And yet there’s still much more to say of Lëda, albeit only by many and diverse sources of knowledge, most of it slim, that included Laërtes by any reckonings in hindsight or from just afterwards of that accomplished armada that won an unforeseen, wholly unplanned armistice to bring all hostilities to surcease.
But this Bardot Blog’s posting is long enough, thus enough said until a next. For it shall explain much more of Nemesis in reveal to Lëda, by the splicing of their skeins by the Fates intended for both of them……