Bitter Honey by Kris Swank

Knossos, Krete, 15th Century B.C.


“Make way for the Priestess Kitane!”


My lady moved down the hallway looking, as ever, regal and stately. The crowd parted respectfully before her, but closed ranks again so quickly that I had to elbow my own way through them down the long row of narrow storerooms.


In addition to her duties as a priestess, Kitane also serves as a temple magistrate. Earlier in the day, she’d been sitting in judgment on a claim of unlawful enslavement. But before the case could be decided, four people disappeared into the labyrinthine temple. The guards were called out. An extensive search was made. And now rather late in the day, Kitane had been ushered here.


“We found them,” a guardsman pointed into one of the little storerooms.


I struggled to the front of the crowd and peered inside. The room was just wide enough for a man to cross in two strides, though it ran six or more paces deep. Shelves on the walls were piled with beehives and wax, while the floor was crowded with shoulder-high pithoi, clay jars for the storage of grain and wine and oil. One large pithos at the center of the room commanded everyone’s attention. It was fairly ordinary except for the dark, sticky streams of honey which had spilled down its sides and run onto the floor…well, that and the pair of feet protruding from the jar’s mouth. The feet, it turned out, were attached to the body of a wicked and now very dead boy.


The strange old Achaean who’d brought his dispute to the temple that morning was standing there, stunned and silent.


“Keep those people back,” Kitane ordered, then she turned to the old man. “What are you doing here, Polyidus?”


“I found him like this just a few moments before the guards arrived…the bees led me here,” he added enigmatically.


Kitane sighed heavily.




Earlier that morning, among the crowds assembled in the public court for the first day of the harvest rites, old Polyidus, an Achaean Greek, had begged at the temple gates for asylum. He claimed to be a free man, illegally enslaved by a cruel merchant. Shortly thereafter, this same merchant, a Minoan named Klymenos, arrived with his two teenaged sons. And when they tried to take Polyidus away by force, a brawl ensued. The guards at the gates apprehended the troublemakers and brought them all inside the temple to await judgment in one of the audience chambers upstairs.


The Priestess Kitane was called upon to hear the case. As her scribe, I was summoned that afternoon to make a true and accurate record of the hearing, and inscribe her wise pronouncements. As I arrived outside the chamber, Kitane was approaching from the other direction.


“Tati, good you’re here. I need you to…” she broke off, interrupted by the noise of an argument within.


She is marvelous, my Lady Kitane. With an authority that belied her twenty years, she entered the room as proud and fearsome as a goddess. The yellow fabric of her linen gown clung to the curve of her breast, and a layered overskirt of blue and red tightly cinched her wasp-thin waist. Silver chains were entwined in her curling black hair. Her mere presence cowed the squabbling men into silence.


Kitane crossed the red-painted room and settled imperiously on a cushioned stool. She tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear and scrutinized the men before her with a withering glare that could melt bronze.


I sat at her feet, a writing table across my knees, and looked up at the men standing there. Polyidus was a gaunt, gray-haired man in a torn and dirty Greek chiton. His large, round eyes constantly scanned the room, and he startled nervously at any unexpected noise.


At his side was Klymenos, the wealthy – and fat – Minoan merchant who claimed to be the legal master of Polyidus. Klymenos thought himself quite elegant, though I knew he was only the bastard son of an Achaean sailor who’d shrewdly used his wealth to gain favor in Knossos.


Klymenos must have brought his sons to the temple for the harvest rites. Much of an age with me, the boys and I were dressed alike in nothing but knee-length cloths kilted about our waists. Their long black hair, like mine, was knotted at the nape of the neck. But that’s where the similarities ended. The brothers had calloused hands and uncouth manners, but their days aboard their father’s ship had given them the sun-bronzed, muscular shoulders of young gods.


The younger boy looked suitably awed by his surroundings. He stood marveling at a light-well that pierced the ceiling to let in the dying sun. With his finger, he traced the lines of a sculpted pedestal supporting a stone lamp. Turning to examine the fresco of a partridge in a garden, the boy was tripped by his older brother. The boys began to quarrel, but were silenced by a stern glance from their father.


The older boy impudently sat himself down upon a bench running along the wall. His kilt parted slightly, and I caught a glint of metal strapped to his thigh. I know I should have told the priestess, for weapons are forbidden to all in the temple but the guards. But the boy pulled his kilt closed again so quickly, slapping its beaded tassel on the stone bench, that I couldn’t be certain what I saw. And since no one else seemed to have noticed it, I didn’t speak. I might have saved two lives if I had.


Kitane turned her honey-colored face toward the elderly man, “Your name, Achaean, and your reason for claiming asylum in the Labyrinth of Knossos.”


“My name is Polyidus, Lady, a free-born citizen of Argos.” He nervously twitched his arms. “I’ve been unlawfully forced into slavery by this man. Won’t the High Priestess grant me sanctuary?”


“Today she prays for the harvest and cannot be disturbed. I’ve been given authority to consider your plea,” the priestess replied.


The merchant puffed out his round, ruddy cheeks, “Bulls’ balls! This man is my slave, legally captured aboard a pirate vessel on the open seas. As you know, the law is quite clear: anyone captured pirating forfeits their freedom, and…”


“As you know, Klymenos of Amnisos,” Kitane interrupted, “anyone who seeks asylum in the Labyrinth of Knossos has the right to be heard.” She pursed her lips and peered at the old man, “You don’t look like much of a pirate.”


“A month ago,” Polyidus explained, “I was sailing home to the Greek mainland, when our ship was attacked by a Minoan merchantman. They killed the crew, seized the cargo, and decided to sell the Achaean passengers into slavery. That man – Klymenos – was in command. When he discovered who I was, he claimed me as his property.”


Kitane raised an eyebrow, “Who are you?”


“You’ve heard, no doubt, of the famous seer, Polyidus of Argos…no? Ah,” the old man deflated. “Well, I can see the future, speak five languages, recite the histories. This man wanted me to tutor his sons.”


Klymenos wagged a fleshy finger, “They were pirates, I tell you.”


“It was a passenger vessel,” Polyidus countered.


“Those are his sons?” Kitane looked toward the youths.


Polyidus nodded, “The whelp dozing on the bench, there, is Glaukon. The younger one is his brother, Blauphon.”


“Were they with their father during the raid?”


“They were there.”


“And you’ve been tutoring them this past month?” she asked.


Polyidus spread his hands apart and began to answer, but stopped as still as the wooden columns when a pretty serving girl entered the room bearing a bowl of fruit and jug of wine. Her delicate feet padded softly on the white gypsum floor. Little budding breasts pressed against her undyed woolen shift as she set the food down on a table.


“Thank you, Adara. It grows late, child, would you light the lamps?”


The girl circled the chamber, inspecting each of the stone pedestals. She wrinkled her little nose, “Lady, they need wax.”


“All of them? Whoever’s in charge of…!” Kitane paused to regain her composure. “Adara, would you please call for more beeswax? And bring some light in here right away. Gentlemen, refreshments?”


No one answered. They were watching the sweet-faced girl glide from the room.


The priestess cleared her throat. “Tutoring, Polyidus? How goes the tutoring?”


“Uh, well,” he bobbed his head. “I’ve tried. Young Blauphon is alright, but that Glaukon is irredeemable.”


“How dare you speak that way of my son! I won’t tolerate such disrespect!” Klymenos lunged at the Achaean.


Kitane stood to intervene, but was flung backward as Klymenos wrapped his thick hands around Polyidus’ throat. As they struggled, the table was knocked over, sending purple figs and grapes rolling into the corners. The clay jug landed with a loud crack, spattering dark red wine on Kitane’s skirt. The guards ran up to stop the fight, while I helped my mistress to rise.


“Restrain yourself, Klymenos, or I will!” she ordered.


“You wouldn’t dare!”


“Wouldn’t I?” she glared.


Polyidus sought to ease the tension by bringing the conversation back to the case at hand. “There were other passengers who survived the attack, Lady, some of them Minoans. I’m certain they would verify my tale.”


“Give their names to my scribe, Tati. All of you wait here while we see if these witnesses can be found. I’m going,” she gestured at her stained attire, “to change.”


Kitane left the room, and I soon followed with the passengers’ names. It took me some time to find a pageboy and give him instructions before I went back to the audience chamber. Upon my return, I encountered the priestess just turning down the hallway herself. We rounded the doorway together but found no guards at the watch, no Klymenos and no sons. Only old Polyidus sat along the stone bench, quietly munching a fig.


“Where are they?” Kitane demanded.


The Achaean swallowed and quickly got to his feet. “Um…it seems young Glaukon slipped off after that pretty serving girl of yours. And when Klymenos discovered the boy had gone, he and Blauphon went in pursuit.”


“They cannot wander the sacred precincts alone. Wait, who’s guarding you, Polyidus?”


“No one. The guards ran after Klymenos.”


A crooked smile played across Kitane’s lips. “You did not take the opportunity to flee?”


The old man straightened, “I do not fear the truth.”


Shadows in the chamber began to lengthen as the sun receded from the light-well above.


“And that girl’s not back yet with the lamp!” Kitane grumbled. “Come, we’ll search for them ourselves. But Polyidus, don’t wander off. Enough people are already at large in the temple.” She motioned for us to follow.




The priestess stepped confidently into the hallway and led us through a twisting series of passages and interconnecting rooms all painted in vivid primary colors and swirling, geometric designs. We passed the usual array of priests and acolytes, servants and scribes engaged in their daily routines, but there was no trace of Klymenos or his troublesome sons.


“How did you end up so far from home, Polyidus?” Kitane inquired as we walked.


“Through my visions, the gods have led me around the world,” he replied. “And many’s the king who wished me to interpret his dreams…oh, you wouldn’t believe the things I’ve seen: the most breathtaking gardens you could ever imagine, a giant crocodile who could swallow a man whole. In Aegyptos, there’s a spotted camel with a neck as tall as your beautiful temple.”


Kitane laughed and leaned against a balustrade.


“It’s true,” he grinned through his scraggly beard. “I saw one with my own eyes. The Aegyptian Queen kept a collection of strange beasts…but none so dangerous as Klymenos.”


“He is cunning and shrewd,” Kitane’s smiled faded.


“And cruel,” Polyidus added as we resumed our search. “His slaves and men all go in fear of his whip. And those boys…well they were woven on the same loom, weren’t they? At least Glaukon was. He likes to flaunt his authority over anyone weaker than himself, or anyone who can’t fight back. He enjoys beating the slaves. Well, slaves are used to a bit of beating, aren’t they? But Glaukon really relishes it.”


Polyidus paused and shook his gray head. “There was this little slave boy on Klymenos’ ship. Young Blauphon was kind to him. They played games together when there was time. But Glaukon took a strong dislike to the boy and terrorized him at every opportunity. One day, Glaukon flew into a rage over some gear the boy neglected to clean. He beat the child…and then violated him, right on deck in front of the crew. What could any of us do? Klymenos gave his sons free rein. That night, the poor little slave threw himself overboard.  I must confess, that’s the only time in my life I thought I could kill someone – the gods forgive me saying so.”


We walked on in silence for a few moments, then Kitane asked, “And what of the younger boy, Blauphon?”


“More of the same. Sullen one moment, wrestling with his brother the next. But Blauphon has the makings of a learned man. He showed a remarkable knack for languages and the histories. The Labyrinth fascinated him. He longed to see the temple’s thousand rooms, and the forest of columns supporting its roofs. When we arrived here, he asked me if the son of a merchant could become a priest.”


“It’s not impossible,” Kitane said. “Though he’s a little old to be starting the training.”


“Away from his father, Blauphon might become his own man,” Polyidus mused.


We finally reached the great central courtyard, a large space at the very heart of the temple. Open to the sky, it allows fresh air to circulate throughout the complex, and serves as a popular meeting place. The court was busy with officials and priests chatting amiably together as servants and slaves hurried by.


Polyidus took in the scene, then squinted at something in the shadows.


“What are those? Bees?” he exclaimed, then he ran off across the limestone pavement.


“Bees? Polyidus, stop!” Kitane called, but he plunged through a dark doorway and was gone.


We rushed after the wiry Achaean, but the passage was empty. We began to search through the winding corridors of the western wing, when someone came running up behind us.


“Oh Lady, there you are!” It was the sweet-faced serving girl, Adara. “Here’s your light.”


She held a small terra cotta lamp in one hand, and shielded its flame with the other.


“Where have you been? And why is your gown torn, child?” Kitane fingered the girl’s dress.


Adara hesitated, “It caught on something.”




“I’m sorry it took me so long, but I had to go all the way to the east wing for the beeswax.”


“But there’s wax right here in the storerooms.”


Kitane led us around one last corner where, unexpectedly, a group of people was gathered. A guardsman noticed the priestess and ushered her through the crowd.


“Make way for the Priestess Kitane.”


He stopped and pointed to a dim storeroom off the corridor, “We found them.”


And that’s how we came to be staring at Glaukon’s feet sticking up from a giant jar of honey – for Glaukon it turned out to be. Polyidus was there, too, standing near the doorway.


“Keep those people back,” Kitane ordered, then turned to the old man. “What are you doing here, Polyidus? You were not to leave my sight.”


“I am sorry, dear lady,” he rubbed his forehead. “I found him like this just a few moments before the guards arrived. The bees led me here…uh, wherever this is.”


“These are food stores, and I don’t see any bees.” She turned and called, “Adara, bring that light in here.”


The serving girl walked nervously into the room, took one look at the dead body in the pithos, screamed and dropped the lamp.




Kitane stood over Glaukon’s honey-drenched corpse where the guards had laid it out on the floor. Her hands were stretched out palms downward, as she intoned a prayer. When she finished, she raised a fist to her forehead then knelt beside the boy and paused.




“What is it?” Polyidus leaned forward.


Kitane motioned him back. “This is normally where I’d place honey in his mouth.”


“Whatever for?”


“Nourishment for the journey,” she explained, “and an offering for the gods.”


“Which gods?” he looked quite interested.


“All of them. Honey is a fit offering for all the gods.”


“I think he’s already got some.”


Kitane shot him an angry look, and Polyidus lowered his eyes. Then the priestess gently cupped Glaukon’s head in the palm of her hand, and made the ritual motion of putting honey in his mouth anyway. But again she stopped.


“There’s a large bump on the back of his head, and the skin’s grazed.” She examined the back of the boy’s skull, then scanned the storeroom, “Polyidus, you are a seer? Can you see who did this? Who defiled the temple with this sacrilege?”


He shook his head.


“Glaukon!” suddenly Klymenos was there, pushing his bulk through the crowd.


“Keep him back!” the priestess ordered. “I’m not done here.”


“Great Mother, what’s happened? What’s he doing here? I’ll see you executed for this, slave!”


“M-me? What for?” Polyidus stammered.


“For killing my son! You hated him!”


“It wasn’t me!” Polyidus pleaded, turning large, round eyes to the priestess. “I was with you the whole time.”


Kitane furrowed her brow. “No, not every moment. You were left alone in the audience chamber for some time. And later, when you ran off after those mysterious bees of yours, we found you standing in this very room.”


“By the gods, Polyidus, I’ll kill you myself!” Klymenos screamed.


“Klymenos,” the priestess interrupted, “where’s your other son, Blauphon? I thought he was with you.”


A young temple page peeked over the back of the crowd, “Lady, come quickly.”




Kitane ran after the pageboy. Watching her bare feet slap against the smooth gypsum tiles, she hopped over a tacky splotch on the floor. The swarm of spectators raced behind her. We all arrived at a small chamber where a guardsman towered over the motionless body of Blauphon, lying prone on the floor and bleeding from a wound to his right side. Klymenos threw himself to the ground.


“No! Not you too!” he screamed. “Who’s doing this to my family?” He clutched his son to his breast a few moments, then pulled back and looked down on Blauphon’s face. “He’s alive! The gods be praised!”


The priestess looked around the room, “Who found this boy?”


“I did, Lady,” the guard replied. “I heard him cry for help. And I found this.” He showed the priestess a small bronze dagger. It was exquisitely engraved down the length of its blade with delicate spirals, now partly obscured by a smear of wine-dark blood.


I sucked in a sharp breath. It was the same size and shape as the object I’d seen Glaukon hiding beneath his kilt.


Kitane knelt next to Blauphon to examine his wound.


“Adara,” she called. “Fetch the herbs and some cloth …quickly!”


The serving girl flew from the room.


“Father?” the boy’s eyes fluttered open. “What happened? We were searching for Glaukon and I lost you. I looked everywhere, but this place is a maze!


“What happened, son?”


“I saw someone running into this room. He hid behind that curtain. I thought it was Glaukon up to his pranks again. But whoever it was, he jumped out and stabbed me!”


“This curtain?” Kitane stood and walked to a doorway hung with an old woolen drape.


The priestess inspected the curtain and the floor beneath, then peered into the alcove behind. Something had piqued her interest, though all I could see was a gray, dusty floor no one had bothered to sweep in a long time. I made a note to find the cleaning woman responsible for this area and reprimand her.


“Who was it?” demanded Klymenos.


“I…I’m not sure,” Blauphon hesitated. “He just stabbed me and ran out of the room.”


Adara returned out of breath. She handed Kitane a clay bowl full of odd leafy sprigs. The dried blossoms were a dull purple, the leaves greenish-gray.


The exhausted girl stumbled against me. Instinctively, I reached out to steady her. The scent of rose petals clung to her hair. She gazed up at me with a desperate vulnerability that startled me. I quickly dropped my arm from about her shoulder and returned my eyes to the injured youth upon the floor.


Kitane knelt beside Blauphon again. Tearing a few leaves from the strange plant, she crushed them in the palm of her honey-soaked hand, then pressed the compound into his wound. He flinched, but his father held him down. The priestess wrapped a strip of cloth about the boy’s ribs. Then, as she’d done over the body of his elder brother, Kitane held her hands above Blauphon, this time reciting an incantation for healing.


“Fate has not cut the thread of your life just yet,” she stood up. “You were lucky the knife hit a rib and didn’t go deeper.”


“What did you put in his wound?” Polyidus asked. “I’ve never seen that plant.”


Diktamos – dittany of Krete,” Kitane explained. “It’s a remedy for wounds and snake bites, also stomach ailments and the pains of childbirth.”


“Remarkable!” he exclaimed.


Klymenos hoisted himself from the floor where he’d been cradling Blauphon and poked his fat forefinger into Polyidus’ chest. “Hold this man! He murdered my son and tried to kill the other one! He thought I’d set him free if there were no sons to tutor. Never!”


The Achaean’s large eyes bulged.


Kitane moved between the two men. “Polyidus didn’t murder Glaukon or attack Blauphon.”


“Even you admit you lost him in the Labyrinth.”


“Klymenos, tossing a body into a jar full of honey is a messy task,” she showed him her sticky hands. “There was honey on the sides of the pithos and on the floor. The killer would have some on him. You may examine Polyidus, but I don’t believe you’ll find anything.”


Klymenos scowled as he searched the Achaean’s clothing and hands.


The priestess turned to her serving girl. “Come here.”


Adara moved cautiously toward her mistress. Kitane grabbed the girl’s chin in the palm of her hand.


“You know something of this, child,” Kitane said.


“Wait!” Klymenos pointed at the serving girl. “There’s honey on her dress…you bitch! What did you do to my son?”


“Don’t be a fool Klymenos,” Kitane snapped, “How could such a slight girl lift Glaukon into that big pithos?”


“Then where did that honey come from?” he countered.


“From the same room, I believe, but for a different reason.” Kitane turned, speaking gently to the girl, “You went to that storeroom to find beeswax for the lamps, didn’t you? Glaukon followed you there, and… your dress was torn.”


Adara looked down, “He pawed at me like a lion on its prey. I tried to get free but he had a knife to my throat! Then I prayed to Britomartis – the Virgin Goddess who protects maidens from the likes of that boy. She gave me strength to fight back, and we fell against a jar. Honey spilled out. He slipped and cracked his head on the floor…I killed him! I was so frightened, I ran.”


“Shh, shh child,” the priestess soothed. “That bump on his head wasn’t enough to kill, only to stun or make him sleep. The skull was bruised, but not broken.”


“But he’s dead!”


“Did you put him in that pithos?” Kitane asked. “No, your surprise at seeing him there was genuine. Someone else did that. But you should have told me the truth sooner. You won’t ever try to deceive me again, eh?”


“No, Lady, I promise.”


“Then who put him in the jar?” Polyidus asked.


Kitane peered at the merchant, cocking her head sideways. “Klymenos of Amnisos, you have honey on your kilt.”


“What?” he looked down at his clothing and flushed. “Outrageous! My sons are dearer to me than my own life. I would never harm them!”


Kitane considered this for a moment, then replied, “No, I don’t think you would. Some honey must have rubbed off as you held Blauphon just now.”


“But Blauphon wasn’t in that storeroom,” Klymenos looked at his young son lying on the floor, then noticed a smear of honey on the boy’s kilt. “Hold on! You got that on him when you tended his wound!”


“I touched his ribs, not his kilt,” Kitane replied. “You’ll also find some honey on the soles of his feet. Didn’t anyone else notice the sticky spots on the floor leading from the stores to this room?” She turned to the boy. “Blauphon, when you became separated from your father, I believe you did find Glaukon.”


“You mean it was Glaukon who attacked me from behind that curtain?” the youth exclaimed.


Kitane shook her head. “No one has gone behind that curtain in a long time. There’s a smooth layer of dust covering the entire floor, and no footprints.”


“But I was stabbed with a dagger!” the boy stumbled to his feet.


“This dagger?” Kitane took the bronze blade from the guard.




“Klymenos, do you know this dagger?”


“It was Glaukon’s favorite. He was never without it.”


She raised an eyebrow, “Yes, I see. Even in the sacred precincts of the temple it seems he could not be parted from it. What hand did he wield it in?”


“His right, as most men do,” the merchant replied.


Kitane lifted the dagger, “So a man facing Blauphon and attacking with his right hand, would have struck where?” She thrust the dagger at Klymenos, stopping just short of his left breast.


“But Blauphon’s wound is on his right side.” Polyidus pointed.


The priestess agreed, “As it would be if he reached down and stabbed himself. Blauphon, it was you who murdered your brother.”


“No!” Blauphon’s face twisted in agony. “Glaukon ruined everything! He told me he was going after that girl to…you didn’t know him. You didn’t know how he preyed on people. But I knew what he’d do to her…I saved her!”


Kitane frowned, “Adara escaped from your brother when he slipped and fell. He was no longer a threat to her. No, you must have found him asleep on the storeroom floor, and thought it a rare opportunity for revenge. First, you stole his beloved dagger, then you threw him – alive – into that pithos full of honey. You drowned your own brother.”


Blauphon stammered, hot tears streaming down his cheeks, “It was…it wasn’t like that. I didn’t think about killing him…I just wanted some peace.”


“Great nymphs, it was Blauphon!” Polyidus exclaimed. “But why stab himself?”


Kitane shrugged, “To place suspicion elsewhere? He’d be desperate to convince everyone he was far away when his brother was killed. But Blauphon got some honey on himself when he put Glaukon in that jar.”


Klymenos cried out, “But why? Your brother may have been a little rough with you…”


“A little rough?” Blauphon stared at his father in disbelief. “He was a monster. He tormented me! If he saw something I loved, he’d destroy it. He strangled a kitten I had for a pet…and he raped my friend, you remember Father, that poor little slave boy? He threw himself overboard just to escape Glaukon. And now today, I told Glaukon I wanted to live at Knossos and study with the priests, but he decided to ruin that for me, too. If he’d raped that girl, we’d have all been expelled from the temple!”


“No, Blauphon,” the priestess declared, “you caused that yourself when you committed murder here.”


“What will happen to me?” the boy said weakly.


Kitane held up her hands, “This has now gone well beyond my authority to judge. The High Priestess will decide tomorrow, when she’s rested from her communion with the Goddess.”




I sat in a small, shady garden the next day, scratching my stylus across several long, narrow sheets of dried palm leaves, recounting the facts of this tragic case. Kitane rested beneath an olive tree, serenely playing with a curling tendril of her black hair.


“Tati, are you still writing?” she chided me. “How many leaves have you filled this time?”


Before I could protest, Polyidus himself appeared. Someone had given him clean clothes and a place to wash. The change took years off his face.


“Polyidus of Argos, I have news for you,” Kitane said.


“Good or bad?”


“You’re free to go. We found two Minoans who were also passengers on your ship. Both confirm you are no pirate, and therefore Klymenos had no right to claim you as a slave.”


“Wonderful! Thank you!” he laughed and clapped his hands together. “I can go? Yes, well, then I’m off to the harbor at Amnisos where I’ll take ship for Argos.”


“You may find that difficult at this time of year. The seas are nearly closed.”


“I must try. I long to return home – it’s been far too long. Who knows, perhaps some bees will lead me there,” his eyes twinkled.


“Yes, about your bees,” Kitane said. “It’s a curious thing that no one saw them but you.”


“I am a seer, Lady, and bees are the messengers of the gods,” Polyidus smirked. Then suddenly becoming grave, he added, “What will happen now to poor Blauphon?”


“The temple can only be cleansed of this murder by the exile or death of the guilty,” she replied. “The High Priestess will announce her ruling later today.”


“It’s just that last night I had a dream. I saw Blauphon in the highest room of the temple…and he jumped from the window.”


She gasped, “To his death?”


“He did not fall. He lighted on the back of a white horse with wings and they flew away.”


Kitane was puzzled, “What an odd vision. In your travels, Polyidus, have you seen such a creature?”


“I have not. But the meaning of the dream is clear – Blauphon’s fate lies elsewhere.”


“Then he won’t pay for his crime? He’ll go free?”


The old man shook his head, “Blauphon will never be free of this tragedy. No, he’ll carry it with him like a scar, and Glaukon will continue to torment that boy for the rest of his life.”


Kitane thought on this for a moment then rose to her feet. “Please excuse me, sagacious Polyidus of Argos. I must attend to Glaukon’s burial…hmm. Strange.”


“What is?” he asked.


“Our people used to inter the dead in large terra cotta pithoi before burial.”


“Then you may as well use the honey jar where Glaukon was drowned,” Polyidus suggested.


“Why do you say that?”


“Because it might sweeten his passage to the other side – a gift for whatever god judges the souls of wicked Minoan boys. Isn’t that also your custom?”


Kitane furrowed her brow.


“Yes,” Polyidus nodded, “you told me yesterday, ‘Honey is a fit offering for all the gods.’”




I transcribed his final words onto one last leaf, thus concluding my account of these events. May the Great Mother Potnia bless me with long life and many healthy children if I have rendered them accurate and true.


Tati, scribe of Knossos