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Poem: "Klytaimēstra's Kestos" - The Wordsmith's Forge
The Writing & Other Projects of Elizabeth Barrette
Poem: "Klytaimēstra's Kestos"

This poem came out of the January 3, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl.  It was inspired by a cluster of prompts from rowyn -- who specified the characters and plot -- plus further details from aldersprig, wyld_dandelyon, and haikujaguar.  It has been sponsored by minor_architect as a gift for rowyn.

I'm using the Old Greek spellings in the poem; the modern versions are Clytemnestra, Agamemnon (that one's the same), Iphigenia, Achilles, Artemis (same), and Aegisthus if you want to read more about them.  A kestos or cestus is a garment, usually described as a girdle or a belt.  Greek mythology includes references to enchanted girdles, particularly the Girdle of Hippolyta and the Girdle of Aphrodite.

Klytaimēstra's Kestos

When Agamemnon plotted war
against the Trogans, he promised
that no harm would come to his family.

His wife Klytaimēstra watched her husband
through slitted eyes and remembered
how he had slain her first husband and her infant son.

That night she went to her daughter Ifigeneia
and said, "Take my kestos  and wear it always.
With this enchanted girdle, no man can deceive you."

When Agamemnon called for his daughter,
Ifigeneia went to him.  He plied her with sweet words,
pledging her the hand of the handsome Akhilleus.

Ifigeneia gave her father an innocent smile and a nod,
but the power of the kestos  overwhelmed his words,
and showed her the truth of his intent.

As soon as he left, she ran to Klytaimēstra and cried,
"Father means to kill me!  The enchanted girdle warned me
that he wants to sacrifice me to Artemis for favorable winds."

"I'll show him  a sacrifice in the honor of Artemis,"
Klytaimēstra said grimly as she dried her daughter's tears.
"Run and find Aegisthos, then bring him here to me."

"That evil man!" Aegisthos exclaimed when he heard the news.
"You are like a daughter to me, Ifigeneia.  I'll not let him harm you."
So the three of them plotted in Klytaimēstra's room.

The next day Aegisthos arranged a wrestling match.
Soon he and Agamemnon were all hot and sweaty.
"Come, join me in the baths!" said Aegisthos.

Deep in the warm water of the baths lounged the two men.
Then Ifigeneia pounced on them and pulled down the curtains.
Aegisthos held Agamemnon while Ifigeneia trapped him in wet cloth.

They pushed him under, but strong Agamemnon still flailed.
Klytaimēstra came and lopped off Agamemnon's head
with the sacred labrys, crying, "Artemis, behold your sacrifice!"

Then they washed away the blood and left the bath.
The women drained the water and let in fresh from the hot spring,
while Aegisthos disposed of the corpse in the ocean.

"Now you are safe, and you may have whatever man you wish,"
Aegisthos said to Ifigeneia.  "I'll not bestow you against your will."
"What of me?" said Klytaimēstra.  "May I have the same?"

"Of course," said Aegisthos.  Klytaimēstra kissed him.
"I think I'll take this  one," she said to him.
Aegisthos laughed and swept her off her feet.

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3 comments or Leave a comment
fayanora From: fayanora Date: January 5th, 2012 03:12 am (UTC) (Link)
From: rhodielady_47 Date: January 5th, 2012 01:15 pm (UTC) (Link)

Very Good!

Now this is the sort of thing the Greek WOMEN would have written had they gotten the chance!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: January 5th, 2012 06:06 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Very Good!

I think some of the myths were written by women. In some places you can see where men tried to spackle over that.

One of my poems that appeared in Star*Line was "Pearls Before Swine," about Circe.
3 comments or Leave a comment