Back in June, I mentioned kourotrophoi. These ceramic mother-child figures have turned up at Mycenaean sites all over the Aegean, particularly in children’s graves. Kourotrophoi were not exclusive to the Bronze Age; the practice continued into later times.
The kourotrophos might have represented a divine Mother Goddess and Child, like the Christian Madonna and Child, or it could simply have been a form of sympathetic magic. Mycenaean and Minoan Goddess and Divine Child representations have been found elsewhere, and my next post will be devoted to a very special such artifact.
I mention kourotrophoi in my books. Here is a passage from Helen’s Daughter in which Hermione reflects on childbearing and the talismans that accompany it.
As high priestess in Sparta, I had seen women die in childbirth. Sometimes, they asked for me, to give them my blessings, and perhaps avert disaster by it, but though I held their hands, wiped the sweat from their brows, and said the prayers, they died, anyway.
Opening my eyes, I gazed at the kourotrophos standing on the table nearest the bed. She was very old, crafted in an outmoded Cretan style. Her scarlet and black paint was fading, but she had faithfully watched over the confinements of my foremothers for eleven generations, and had not lost a single woman in childbirth.Purchase Helen's Daughter on Amazon Kindle or at Smashwords.
Seeing her legendary beauty for the first time with an adult’s eyes, I was not impressed. Helen was dainty and dark-haired like a woman in a fresco, but she was also cool and impenetrable. Why in the world had so many men wasted their lives fighting in her name, or had they even known what they were dying for? I would not have died for her.
𐀪 𐂁Linear B ideograms meaning “man” and “woman,” respectively.
As a correction to a statement I made in an earlier post, Linear B does appear to have had some diphthongs, but they are separate signs, and the script still does not represent all the sounds (such as the liquid /l/, /g/, and /h/) that the spoken language must have had.
I am slowly working on Orestes: The Outcast, the second book in the trilogy, but also trying to get the word out there about The Young Lion and Helen’s Daughter. If you read and liked either book, please pass the word along (and let me know your thoughts, of course!).
Orestes: The Young Lion has its first review, and it's a five-star one. Wow! I was having such doubts over whether people would like the book, and whether it was worth it to start the second one, but this fires me up again.
I normally don't find "the early years" parts of historical bio very interesting, but Ms. Gill makes the telling of Orestes, son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra, and scion of the cursed house of Atreus, very compelling. In particular, I think the author does two things very well...
First, the author does a very good job dealing with the psychology of Orestes. Orestes reveres his absentee father, and at times, has to come to grips with the fact that Agamemnon was not a very nice man. His interactions with his mother and stepfather are also interesting from a psychological standpoint. Orestes' relationship with his tutor was also heartwarming. But the most interesting aspect, I thought, was Orestes' attempting to come to grips with his destiny, namely that he is cursed to kill his own mother.
Secondly, I was surprised at how, at least in my mind, accurately Ms. Gill was able to get into the mind of a young boy. As a dabbling writer myself, I always find it daunting to attempt to narrate from a feminine point of view, but Orestes rings true as a very compelling boy and young man, with all the emotions, impatience of youth, and flaws portrayed beautifully.
I eagerly await the second installment of this story!