“. . . there is a story given, differing from the rest . . . . That the women of the island [Cypress] received Ariadne very kindly, and did all they could to console and alleviate her distress at being left behind. That they counterfeited kind letters, and delivered them to her, as sent from Theseus, and, when she fell in labor, were diligent in performing to her every needful service; but that she died before she could be delivered, and was honorably interred.”
Plutarch, I love you, but your underdressed summaries
smell suspicious. This one, when returning to the text, rereading,
broke out “Women of the island” as women of privilege.
There was a need to dress. “Received Ariadne very kindly,
and did all they could” slipped into provided her
with separate quarters and three slave girls still suffering
the loss of husbands defending their homeland
against Cypriot invasion, during which each girl’s infant
had been ripped from her arms, quieted then placed
in a Cypriot home, homes of the women of the island,
and on that island the slave’s children promised safe lives
only if the slaves faithfully served and kept quiet
about the past. “Who else, who better suited,” said a woman
of the island, “to attend longing?” Talk about summary!
I felt the slaves drag to Ariadne, clench, silently attend
to “her distress at being left behind.” But when
carrying the child became difficult or mental burden
worsened – hard to tell which – I heard “Find those inept girls
something else to do. For God’s Sake, we’ll take care
of Ariadne on our own.” I watched, Plutarch, the women
of the island write and the slaves deliver your “kind letters,”
sit with Ariadne, listen to her read aloud. The girls knew
the words to be counterfeit, but considering the survival
of their own children, held the facts inside. Each letter
placed Theseus on an unknown island
not unlike one the slave girls saw when wishing to be
with their murdered husbands or to escape with their children.
He was coming. That Theseus repaired his ship, grew nearer
and nearer to departure only fueled Ariadne’s desire to hold
the baby in and for the slaves to throw every “needful” ounce
into its delivery, Plutarch. The father should see his child.