Summary ~ Scott Withiam

“. . . 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


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.