Παρασκευή, 27 Ιουλίου 2012

Η Καλλιπάτειρα (english)

Niki Filopoulou

1st special Olympic award
20th Pan-Hellenic Story Competition 20ος
“Sikeliana 2004”
Award date: 31 October 2004

The day was full of aromas, joyful. The golden wings of the sun had hugged Rhodes tight, the emerald island of Aegean Sea, which carried through the eons the name of Athens’s king, the mythical Aegeas. From the pastures and the fishing fields, men, women and children made their way to the big harbour in the early evening and longed to wave farewell to Diagoras and his sons, Akousilaos, Damagitos and Dorieas, his daughter Fereniki and her son Efkleas, who would sail for the far away Olympia,
to take pride in Peisidoros, his daughter’s Kallipateira’s son, who for the first time would participate in the prestigious Olympic Games. Diagoras had instilled in his children and grandchildren the Olympic ideals. Winner in the Pan-Hellenic and local athletic games, he had been crowned with the branch of the sacred Hercules’s olive tree, but also with laurel, with palm tree leaves, with wild celery and myrtle.

Inside the manor for months they were all busy preparing all that was necessary for the big trip. Kallipateira, widowed at a very young age, cared for and thought only of her son. She educated him as well as she could and willed him to follow in the steps of her father, Diagoras, the Olympic Games winner. Her dream was to see him crowned with victory’s wild olive branch. For this reason from break of dawn till sunset she was present at his training. She even had bet that she would enter at the Stadium in Olympia to admire him at the moments he would compete in the games.
To hear the pointless words she was saying, young and old men shook their heads in sorrow. For sure, they thought, her husband’s death had deprived her of her sanity and made her believe that the impossible could happen. Because it was known that the sacred law of Ilida would not permit the married women come close to Olympia, enter the holy Alti and watch the games. Breaking of the law was punishable by throwing off from Typaion Mountain. Only for the priestess of goddess Demeter Haminis the prohibition was not valid, and she was allowed to watch the games from an honorary throne.
Agasos, Kallipateira's nurse, was deeply sad for the decision her ‘daughter’ had carelessly taken. Her soul tore to pieces because she had raised her since she was a baby. But the lady did not pay any attention to the old nurse’s fears, nor would she listen to her words. So, from that day the old nurse, with a heavy heart, supervised the preparations for the long journey. What else could she do!
Three months before the beginning of the Olympic Games, trumpeters and libation-priests, heralds of Olympia, went around the villages, cities and islands. They even went outside Greece to invite athletes, gymnasts and common people to the Olympic Games. They brought the Olympic Flame and they cried out the  T r u c e  during the  S a c r e d   D a t e, that Ilida would impose one month before and one month after the Olympic Games so the athletes and the people could travel with safety to and from leaving the Games.

In the manor’s big parlour a respectable old man, close family friend, was offered his advice as the nurse eavesdropped   .
- Kallipateira, you need to have your eyes open and your ears bended when you set your foot on the sacred Alti of Olympia.
- My dear Ionas, thank you for caring for me. But don’t think something bad will happen, because, if something goes wrong I will immediately leave, but don’t worry. I will enter freely in the Stadium since during the month of the athletes’ preparation everyone in Olympia will know that I am the trainer of the athlete Peisidoros.
Hearing to those words, Agaso, makes her presence noticed and enters the conversation.
- My daughter, what has entered your mind and you are not willing to change it, demands guts and a lion’s heart.
- Agaso, I want to take pride of my only son too, when the olive branch will worthily adorn his head. Only for that sacred moment I defy Helias’ laws, even death. And since Kallianaktas, his father, has passed away, all the time it has been I who trained him hard. Don’t I have the right to be beside the winner? Don’t I have the right to share his joy? Where did you see the opposite written ?
- You are right, but in that place the laws demand hard things and commit ever worse. Why lose your life?
- No matter what you say, I am not changing my mind.
- My little Kallipateira, daughter of my heart, I nursed you, I bred you, you are tearing my insides.
- Don’t muddle with her and do right by her. The immeasurable love she has for you makes her talk like that. And take care, my lady, not to be seen by eye evil and revengeful.
- Thank you, ‘mother’, for you wishes, and you, Ionas, for your advice, but the fear is eating your inside for no reason. I have everything in my mind, I will act with caution. I will cut my hair like men do and I will wear clothes of a gymnast. You worry for no reason for my life.
- You spoke well my daughter. So far, it is enough and more. But how will you hide the wild pigeons that flutter at your bosom?
- I have thought of that too, the first thing above all. I will girdle myself on a tight belt and so my sex’s sign will hide well.
- Daughter of my heart, I wish in your journey the god of the sea, the great Poseidon, launches a tail wind and Hera, the first goddess to bring everything favourable and auspicious, to have good return.
So Kallipateira began her journey with her father’s companion, the three brothers, her sister, her nephew and her son, who trained well as was, he was going to claim the victory in Olympia. For the first time she was going with her child, and for that reason she was accompanied by everybody in Rhodes, who wanted to show their support. The truce had begun, so their trip was peaceful without hostilities. Even the north winds were calm, fair and well travelled, and they reached at the famous harbour of Kyllini in Peloponnesus, with no obstructions. They anchored, unloaded their belongings, harnessed mules and horses and started with chariots drawn by four horses for Ilida.

The first night they stopped at an inn for resting. The hospitality was exceptional distinguished. Soft coverlets, well cooked food and wine from musk grapes, capable to raise even the dead. When the dawn painted the sky rose, they started their trip again. The road till Olympia was long and at Letrinous the night reached them. At the inn they dismounted they were offered white wine, meat and warm barley bread. When they finished eating, the inn keeper recited old stories for the place and its people.
- Out city was built by Latreas, son of king Pelopas and Ippodameia. It was named after him. I am one of the lucky ones here, because there are many stadiums and travellers spend the night in my inn, because you cannot reach Olympia in one day.
The next day they woke up light hearted and in good mood. Before they departed, they had fruits and bread to eat. When they finished eating they took the Sacred Road that leads to Olympia. After many stadiums and with the sun burn on their faces, they saw in the distance the Sacred Alti. They were crossing the Pompiki road, when old Diagoras asked to stop at the open Gate. He stood and breathed soil and sky, giving himself over to the memories of his triumphs. When the storm in his heart had settled down, he climbed on the chariot and tried to hide his tearful eyes.

The month of preparation for the athletes and their gymnasts was laborious, cruel, and for Kallipateira even more so. She had to take care not only of the curious eyes, but also pretend very well. Diagoras was watching his grandson train, as were his uncles and his cousin. The 30 days went by and when the much desired day arrived, it dawned with dreams and full of plans. The agony was trickling drop by drop with the sweat on the well trained bodies of the athletes. All the athletes believed that they would be the winners and the branch of the Hercules’s wild olive tree would adorn their own hair.

On the first day of the games after they went to the altar of the goddess Estia making their offers, they were headed to Vouleftirio. In front of the sacrificed animals, on the altar of Orkios Zeus, who was holding in each hand one golden thunder bolt, the famous Hellanodics, athletes, gymnasts and charioteers began saying their vows swearing solemnity, proclaiming honesty. The Hellanodics swore to keep the rules of the games and judge the athletes fairly. The trainers, that they would perform correctly the training and the athletes that they are free Greek people, and that they would fight fairly and that the state has not condemned them neither for murder nor for disrespect. In the end the athletes sprinkled the altars and the statues of the gods adorned with flowers and branches with the blood of the sacrificed animals. For the children and the teenagers the vows were given by their father, brother or whoever was escorting them. Diagoras, the grandfather, took the vows for Peisidoros. Afterwards began the registration of the athletes according to their game, as well as the drawing of the position each athlete would take during the oath taking.
At the entrance that leads to the Stadium and in front of an altar that no sacrifice to any god would take place, the games of the trumpeters and the heralds began. The trumpeters competed to the sound of the trumpet and the heralds to the strength of the voice. The herald imposed silence to the spectators and with a thunderous voice began saying the name of each athlete and the name of his father and the place he was born. One by one the athletes took one step forward and when all of them were lined, the herald asked the people one question:
- Is there anyone that wants to report that someone of the athletes has broken the laws of his country?
The breathing stopped at once and a deadly silence spread everywhere. Because, if one man was there saying any accusations, the disgrace for the athlete and the city he was born was really great. Finishing, they headed toward the Stadium for the beginning of the games. The young - athletes would fight without a girdle, completely naked. The same day, the Hellanodics lead to the backward a sibling boy - who had both his parents - to cut with a golden sickle from the Best Chaplet of Hercules’s wild olive tree many branches for the winners’ crowns as were the number of the games. The day closed with poems reciting, offerings to the gods and philosophical discussions.

The second day, early in the morning, the people filled the hippodrome. The chariot race was an impressive game, founded by the same king Pelopas. All the chariots raced at the same time the distance of fourteen stadiums, completing twelve times the hippodrome’s circle. Horse races followed, where according to the regulations the winner was not the charioteer or the jockey, but the owner of the horses. In the afternoon the athletes had to compete in five games. Running, jumping, disc throwing, javelin and wrestle. The day finished with offerings in favour of Pelopas, protector of the chariot race game.

The third day of the games is the most important one. By procession, the Hellanodics, the Priests, the Sacristans, the officials and the athletes offered their sacrifices at the altar of Orkios Zeus. The nobles of Ilia offered the hecatomb, that is, a hundred oxes, followed by the sacristans, and the representatives of various cities. The running games would take place in the Stadium, so everyone headed there. The running was a game of speed and endurance lasting one stadium, six hundred feet. The Diaulos was a distance of 2 stadiums and Dolichos a race of 12 Diaulos, 24 stadiums.
Phoebos, leading the chariot of the Sun, circled the Sacred Alti, casting bright rays and sending in the area of Olympia abundant heavenly light. The Stadium filled with people and the voices of the viewers who were waiting for the games to begin. Suddenly, even the slightest whisper ceased as a woman entered the Stadium wrapped in a bright, long tunic. They all stood up and remained still as they gazed the respectable priestess of the goddess Demeter Hamini. She was the only married woman that by law was permitted to be in the Stadium during the games.
The fourth day was dedicated to the hard games; to boxing, wrestling and to Pagratio which was the most dangerous of all the games, because it combined wrestle with boxing. Pagration’s athletes were also called Pammachos (i.e. ultimate fighters). The athletes need to have bodily strength and speed. They say that Pagratio was established by the son of king Aegeas, Thisseas, who when he was in Crete, in Labyrinth, he fought the Minotaur, the giant monster that had a human body and a bull’s head.
In the Stadium the spectators were like ants in the line, and heroic words of courage filled the mouths and the air. The people rushed early in the morning to find a good spot, to sit cosily and to be able to watch the games in the best way. The sun was burning strong and the sweat formed small rivulets on their faces and their bodies. They didn’t even notice the beardless trainer that entered the Stadium along with the athletes and sat in the area of the trainers, as thousand unknown languages were heard, and no one were understanding; because there were athletes, gymnasts, friends, relatives and spectators that had come from distant places, outside Greece.
In a few moments the boy’s fist fighting would begin. Peisidoros would have Damarhos the Paraseios as his opponent, an athlete from Arkadia. The fight between them was difficult, tough, but in the end the winner was Kallipateira’s son. His uncles, full of joy, took him in their hands and lifted him up in the air. Nearby, the victorious Diagoras was admiring the fact that his child’s child was the winner in the game and he would be announced an Olympic Champion.
Kallipateira, because of the unexpected victory could not hold herself and run to embrace her child. She jumps over the barrier that was dividing the area of the trainers from the arena, but in her haste she tangled, the belt got loose and the tunic fell down. Everyone stood and gazed, because the naked body that appeared was not of a man’s build, but of the Aphrodite!

The winner’s trainer is a woman! The sin was serious and the disrespect great. There was a big murmur; voices were heard, serious accusations, blasphemies and curses. The umpire enforced discipline and two Hellanodics covered Kallipateira’s naked body and lead her to Vouleftirion.
The commotion settled down when the Oplitodromi, fully armed runners, entered the Stadium. The athletes wore helmet, armour, leggings and they hold on the right hand a sword and on the left a copper shield. Deep silence prevailed and everything was forgotten when the armed running began. The people were watching with great attention the athletes who were running the Diaulos running distance in full armour and completely naked. When the games ended the Hellanodics wrote an official paper with the names of the winners and their respective victories. So, the Olympic winners would remain immortal for ever in the history of the Olympic Games.
With respect but also excess courage, Diagoras’ daughter talks at the Vouleftirion for the glory of her generation. And asks the Ilian nobles and the Hellanodics for a ‘privilege’, because she is not, she says, like the other women and demands to waive the rule of the sacred law she violated.
- My name is Kallipateira and I have a glorious father with an honoured name. He is Diagoras of Damagitos, king of Ialysos, grandson of the Eratides royal generation. A renowned boxer. He was crowned by a worthy Olympic champion’s and Lykaion winner’s hands. He was the winner at the games of Pythia, Isthmia, Nemea and Lykaion. His statue, a work of Kallikles from Megara who has also made in his hometown Zeus’ statue, is placed at the Sacred Alti. I have three brothers in line and all three of them are Olympic champions. Akousilaos won the men’s boxing game, Damagitos won the Pagratio many times and Dorieas was a winner eight times at Isthmia, seven at Nemea and one at Pythia. Apart from that, he had three Olympic victories at Pagratio. A famous Periodonikis, as our father was. I have a nephew, Eukleas, who was crowned Olympic champion in the boys’ fist game. What else to say? Which other Greek generation is crowned with the olive branch of Victory and Glory so many times as the generation of Diagorides?
Respectful old men of Ilida and you Hellanodics, do not allow the blood of an Olympic champion’s mother to be spilled and stain the Olympic Games.
And saying those words the brave Rhodian woman she lofty moved out. Peisidoros encouraged her by holding her tight in his arms, and the bystanders respectfully gave her space to walk by. In one corner was standing her father sorrowful and a bit further her brothers and her nephew, all sunk in sorrow. As the day began to descend the sky’s stairwell, Ilida’s nobles and the Hellanodics came to a decision.
- Their opinion was unanimous and not divided in two. So, the Sacred Council decided not to apply Ilida’s law, announced the oldest Hellanodic.
Everyone’s heart was relieved with a sigh of joy and said that the state and its nobles took a righteous decision. Diagoras shed tears of emotion, so the children and his grandchildren, and after a while all together were headed to the altar of Zeus for benedictive offerings.
The incident with Kallipateira made the Ilian nobles to form a law specifying that on the days of the Olympic Games apart of the athletes that entered the Stadium naked, so would their trainers.
After dinner the men retreated to Leonidaio, the women went to the women’s hostelry and Peisidoros at the athletes’ quarter.

The fifth day would be the crowning of the Olympic Games winners. The morning began with offerings as the first day. In the Stadium the people waited anxiously. The Gymnasiarch was leading the way and the Hellanodics were following, all dressed with scarlet chlamys. The Priests and the Sacristans were following. The crowd with impetuous enthusiasm was cheering the appearance of the winners. The Umpire raises his sceptre high and the Herald opens his month and the names of the Olympic Winners rise in the skies.
The oldest Hellanodic crowns the heads of the worthy champions with the Olive Branch, which is thallium, that is, a branch from the Hercules’s wild olive tree tied with blond hair. In the end the winners were lead to the altar of the goddess Hestia for the bloodless sacrifice. And before the sun retrieved to the rooms of the west, the state of Ilida set a table at Prytaneio. They held a dinner with all the goods of Zeus for the Olympic Winners, the Hellanodics and Priests, the Judges and Sacristans, the officials and the past Olympic champions. The abundant night was brightened with paeans and hymns with the accompaniment of flute, and lasted till the first light of the new day.

The news of Peisidoros’ winning already had reached the port of Kyllini, where the ship was waiting for them in the harbour for over one month. So, in the dusk of the next day the captain and the crew welcomed the Olympic Winner and his family. The flute players began playing joyful rhythms and the singers sang victorious chants and festive songs, stirring up the enthusiasm of Poseidon, Amfitriti and the sea Nymphs. They were all cheerful, but Kallipateira was double, triple happy. Her son was an Olympic Winner! What a pride! What a brilliant glory for Rhodes! And it was not only that. They would raise his statue in the Sacred Alti, next to the one of her glorious father.
The next dawn they lifted their anchor and set the sails. The steer man began to sing a sea-song and the oarsmen pulled at the oars rhythmic, singing happy songs. The return journey seemed like an endless eon. When Rhodes appeared in the distance they lighted the torches and raised white sails. Both, were signs of victory.

Peisidoros walks proudly wearing on his blond hair the Olive Branch of Glory. On his right Diagoras, his mother at the side of his heart, his uncles, his aunt and his cousin, all, one step behind. The wind was full of cheers, cries of joy and triumphs. As the Olympic Winner was passing by they were throwing at him fragrant flowers and the young men were breaking down the walls so the four horse-chariot of the winner would get through them. Really, why would they need the walls since the island had an Olympic Winner? In the face of the brave mother tears of pride were shinning as the world was welcoming with so much love and such admiration her only son.
Really, how this had escaped her mind? What she had asked from the Heavens, was given to her. They had to go first of all to the temple of Zeus and pay their respects. To offer their benedictive sacrifices, and her Olympic champion son had to dedicate the Winner’s Olive Branch to the great God. And what were they all doing? They had fallen on the festivities and the drinking and the eating. Disrespect! What a shame!
So Kallipateira did what she had to do. She gathered them and all together took the road for  the Temple to do their debt to Zeus.
On the road while they were walking she heard behind her a familiar voice saying:
- What best could you ask from the Heavens this holy moment that you live, my daughter?
The tearful eyes of the old nurse were saying it all. Kallipateira tilts on her embrace and utterly happy whispers:
- Nothing else, mother, nothing else...

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