Chapter 644: The Princess Wedding (I)
Davos nodded and said, “I will send Ansitanos to assist you since all those coming to Thurii to participate are all famous scholars in Greece and have great influences among the Greek city-states. Since Ansitanos is a scholar, he will know them better and have some common topics so they won’t feel neglected.
Besides those, these scholars may make some requests that we must try our best to satisfy as long as they are not excessive. At the same time, you should consider that many people may come to listen to their lectures once the symposium starts. Hence you should send people to maintain order, stop rioting, and protect the safety of these scholars.”
“You can rest assured that we will carefully arrange it, your majesty,” Lysias said cautiously.
“We’ve been discussing for so long that it is already lunchtime.” Davos stretched and said with a relaxed smile, “I have one last thing to announce, and it’s a personal matter for me. Tomorrow after Hera’s Wedding Celebration would be my daughter Cynthia’s wedding, and I will hold a banquet at the palace tomorrow night to celebrate it, to which you are invited!”
. . . . . . . . . . . .
This year’s Hera’s Wedding Celebration was livelier than the previous year’s as many people came to watch it. After all, there is a special young couple among the newlyweds participating in the festivity.
They are Cynthia, the daughter of King Davos, loved by the people of Theonia, and Patroclus, the hero of Theonia and the youngest senior centurion of the army.
Apart from their background, they themselves are quite popular with the people.
After becoming an adult, Cynthia became well-known to the people of Thurii as her mother Cheiristoya’s right hand in helping with her business. In addition, she is gentle, generous, virtuous and hardworking, which is the image of an excellent woman in Theonian culture.
Patroclus, on the other hand, was born into a family of freemen. His father was actively engaged in public affairs instead of wasting himself after getting wounded on the battlefield. And through his efforts, he became an outstanding official of the kingdom and contributed greatly to the prosperity of Thurii. At the same time, Patroclus became an excellent warrior and officer through his studies in the school of Theonia and his experience on the battlefield. And due to his outstanding performance in battle, he even became a flag bearer at the Triumphant Return. The success of Patroclus’ family, as an immigrant, was an example to countless freemen families in the kingdom.
Thus despite the festivity ending, the people were still excited because they knew that there would be a traditional wedding ceremony for the young couple in the evening, and they might even see the King and his wife.
Currently, Cynthia had separated from Patroclus as she followed her mother, Agnes, and brought the female slaves to the Fountain of Hades (formerly known as the Fountain of Thurii) beside the Nike square. After bowing to Hades and Persephone’s statue and the statue of Davos in the middle of the fountain, she filled several buckets of clear fountain water and then returned home.
At the same time, Davos’ residence was covered in red, with everyone already dressed, including the servants, as they prepared for the upcoming wedding.
Cynthia quickly returned to the bathroom of the main building, took off her clothes that were almost wet (from the sprinkling of water on Hera’s Wedding Celebration), and carefully scrubbed her whole body with the fountain water. Besides washing away the dirt on her body, this also symbolically washes away the relics of her maidenhood in accordance with tradition.
After changing into a clean robe, she went to the rear courtyard garden to meet Agnes, who was waiting for her beside the statue of Artemis, the goddess of chastity and childbirth. And in front of the statue were offerings and lit oil lamps.
“Mother Agnes!” Cynthia hurried over.
“Don’t be anxious, child.” Agnes smiled, took her hand, and let her stand in front of the statue while Agnes stood beside her.
At this moment, Agnes wore a white priestly robe, making her extremely beautiful and slim. And since it was hard to notice that she had given birth to two children and was already thirty-six years old, she and Cynthia looked like a pair of sisters when standing together. Only when someone carefully observes her can they find one or two lines of crow’s feet in the corner of her eyes.
Agnes began to feel sad as she looked at the statue of Artemis. Twenty years ago, she had become a priestess of this goddess and thought she would serve her and remain single until she became old. But she didn’t expect to marry a considerate husband, have two lovely children and have a big, lively family…
“Come, pray quietly with me,” Agnes said softly to Cynthia after returning to her senses. She then took the lead in chanting in a low voice, “When the night comes, the moon appears.
O Artemis, who patrols the world while holding a bow and arrow.
O Artemis, who shelters women and children.
Cynthia followed her prayer devoutly.
After praying, Cynthia’s personal slave brought some clothes and toys she had worn when she was young and lit them in front of the statue.
As she watched the rising white smoke and a pungent smell, Cynthia couldn’t help but feel downcast because, from this moment on, she was saying goodbye to her childhood. Moreover, she would also break away from Artemis’ blessing and transfer to Aphrodite, the goddess of sex, and Hera, the goddess of marriage.
Afterwards, she returned to her bedroom, where her other mother, Cheiristoya, was waiting.
“Mother, thank you for your hard work,” Cynthia said firmly. At this time, her bedroom was decorated beautifully with the golden statue of Aphrodite standing above her bed, which Cheiristoya did alone, as the tradition doesn’t allow others to interfere.
“Silly girl, this is what a mother should do!” said Cheiristoya smilingly. She then took out a gilded apple, handed it to her, and said, “Pray to the goddess of love.”
In the legends of the Iliad, Prince Paris of Troy gave Aphrodite a golden apple as he considered her the most beautiful goddess. Thus the delighted Aphrodite immediately gave Paris her blessing and made the most beautiful Greek woman, Helen, fall in love with him, thus triggering the Trojan War. After that, a marriage custom appeared in some Greek city-states of offering golden apples to Aphrodite, the goddess of love would then bless the bride.
Cynthia held the golden apple in her hand as she prayed piously to Aphrodite.
After a moment of silence, she placed the apple in the statue’s outstretched hand in exchange for a new, ornate girdle in its hand. This is also a custom that had come from the legend of the Iliad. In the legend, the goddess Hera pleaded with Aphrodite to lend herself the girdle that she tied around her chest before her union with the king of the gods, Zeus. Hera borrowed the girdle because it has a magical power to inspire the passion of desire, which allowed her to charm Zeus and achieve her goal successfully.
As a bride, she wants her groom to spoil her with love and pleasure!
Cynthia then shyly picked up the girdle and tried it on her chest.
Cheiristoya then led Cynthia to sit by the bed, pointed to several items and said, “This crown, necklace and earrings were given to you by your mother, Agnes. These are the jewellery she wore when she married in Thurii.”
Cynthia looked at the pieces of jewellery: The crown was made of gold and silver, inlaid with blue and green garnet and had a fine and detailed design; The necklace’s chain was made of silver, and the tassel was made of gold, with a sizeable orange-red amber at the front, which was dazzling; The earrings are two small delicate silver studs each strung with milky white pearls.
Cynthia took it in her hand. While looking at it, she wanted to wear it right away. In the end, she muttered, “It’s beautiful!”
Cheiristoya sighed and said, “Your mother Agnes’ family is a great noble of Rhegium. Back then, her father, Athelycus, wanted your father to hold a grand wedding, so he sent her to Thurii in a magnificent fleet. However, your father refused as he was considering my feelings…at that time, your mother Agnes was wearing expensive jewellery, surrounded by a huge procession as she headed towards our home from the port. Along the way, she attracted the attention of thousands of people, which became a topic of many Thurians to this day…”
Cynthia then remembered that Cheiristoya and Davos got married after recapturing Amendolara from the Lucanians, so they were mostly thinking about how to stand firm in Amendolara, recover from the scars of war, and other urgent matters. Thus the wedding ceremony between them was carried out quite simply as they had just participated in the first Hera’s Wedding Celebration, which had neither a grand wedding nor a banquet. On the contrary, they even got two children (that is, she and her brother Adoris)…
Cynthia thought of this and immediately put down her jewellery, hugged Cheiristoya with both hands and asked, “Mother, what heirloom would you give me?”
“My wedding was simple back then, and I didn’t have many things besides this one-” Cheiristoya sighed again and picked up a girdle from the bed.
Cynthia immediately noticed the special features of this girdle. Although it looks slightly old, it has a good texture, is light as a feather, and has an exquisite embroidered pattern. Moreover, the thread used wasn’t an ordinary silk thread but instead something she had never seen before… And even though it was too flashy, it didn’t feel vulgar. Instead, it is rather luxurious.
Seeing Cynthia stare at the girdle, Cheiristoya became emotional as she stroked the girdle with her hand and said quietly, “This is a Persian royal girdle. It protected me from being captured by Persian soldiers, allowed me to meet your father, blessed me from escaping Persia, and allowed me to follow your father to Magna Graecia and finally marry him…Now I give it to you…”
Cheiristoya softly said while recalling the countless events of the past. Davos had fulfilled the promise he made to her in the past, while she couldn’t even remember what the man she served when she was young looked like…