If you’ve read the brief back-cover summary just above—or even the shattering full story of Deucalion’s young years in Ariadne’s Brother: A Novel on the Fall of Bronze Age Crete (—you know what these exiles and outlaws, sheltering now on the mountain-stronghold of Karfi, are remembering each in their way: the needless wholesale destruction of their ancient way of life.

4 Karphi, across Lasithi Plateau from Mt Dikte

Minoan Crete, a matriculture vibrantly alive and free for over 2,000 years, was crippled by the catastrophic eruption of the Thera volcano. No matter what Minoans tried in its aftermath, there seemed to be no way to placate the mainland-born Achaians (or Mycenaeans) who were relentlessly insinuating themselves, their father-gods and ways of life built around the “glories” of war, into the Minoans’ midst. Despite flashes of hope for a fair future between young chief priestess Ariadne and the mainland’s extraordinary but ruthless figure Theseus, the frightening whispers of a building mainland invasion-fleet prove true. And so (as sources say) on a wild spring day, the Achaians land in overwhelming force and begin to take down their teachers—builders of the oldest, most advanced and successful civilization yet on Western record.

Knossos Labyrinth reconstruction

Knossos Labyrinth, the Minoans’ ceremonial center for over 2,000 years

As we know, some Minoans wanted nothing to do with the new “way” that reduced their home to a mainland colony, and the ritual center of their sacred economy (their oikonomios or “familial household”) to a military post and counting-house. But when you’ve walked the mountain of Karfi (or even spent the night freezing there, as I did!), and seen the rich green land no longer yours spread out below you, what can you do in defeat but eat your heart in discontent, rage and sorrow? That is the question driving the older Deucalion, sole survivor of his family, half-mad: What Now…

Because the answer he receives (“from the clamor of our graves”) horrifies him—and in the story, you’re soon going with him—this is the day for you to see first a few flashes of what their living eyes remember. You too can go and walk these places, and find in every artifact the living way Minoans left us…

14 Labyrinth south entrance   15 Labyrinth south procession hall

Reconstructions: at left above, the inland causeway and southern entrance to Knossos Labyrinth, and at right, a great hall further inside enroute to the central courtyard. To the pipes and strings of musicians, Minoans bring country offerings into the great house of their families’ ancestors. Gem-stranded hair-styles, textiles, jewelry, the place itself must have dazzled the eyes with their love of color and the play of light and shadow…

       16 Knossos throne   17 Minoan Cretan females palm to palm

The Knossos throne, where Ariadne reigned and struggled to save Crete, and where Deucalion should have sat as well. What they remember is a life where it was impossible to tell divinities from human beings…

18 Knossos West Court today

An old photo of Knossos’ west courtyard from my first visit (1983)—char from the great fires of conquest mars the bastion. And each day of Deucalion’s exile sees the place still operant, but under the hard thumb of colonizing strangers…

19 Gournia, a Minoan town

Ruins of the east-Cretan town of Gournia. According to archaeologists, more than one Minoan generation witnessed the relentless destruction of every such important place—and from Deucalion’s own children to the brutalized women and men sharing Karfi exile—“hanging on The Nail”—it’s almost too much to be sure if their old life was real.

It was—only now they carry it in their hearts and hands.

21 Ritual Dance   20 Minoan Goddess in House portable shrine

23 descent into Lasithi Plateau

24 Dikte cave

Nothing but the deepest voices within these people can even speak about leaving a place loved so long and well. But the news is worse—because they cannot “just leave” for a new life. As we know from many central but “killed” or broken artifacts, it was sacrilege to leave a thing once holy unburned or unburied. They are going to have to leave through Knossos, the heart of their old life—take on the war-expertise of their conquerors, and make an end of their crimes if they can.

25 Minoan Priestess

From a Late Minoan sarcophagus, this (you might say) is the young queen and “life of his soul,” Deucalion’s highest conscience, Ariadne. “When the people suffer,” she once said, “somebody has to be brave.” It’s time to grit his teeth, to slash his arms and die and be reborn—from “Sweet Wine” to Otus: He Who Pushes Back.

And What Then?




About Dr Jack Dempsey

Always good to hear from you! A life-long freelance writer/editor, Brown University Ph.D. (in Native & Early American Studies)---novelist ("Ariadne's Brother," "People of the Sea"), historian and biographer ("New English Canaan," "Thomas Morton," "Mystic Fiasco" and more), producer ("Nani: A Native New England Story"), Book Editor/Public Speaking Coach: Bentley University Adjunct Assistant Professor of English, Media Studies & Communications (Best Part Time Prof 2010). Latest works? Scientific nonfiction on the lunar/solar calendar of ancient Minoan Crete---"The Knossos Calendar: Minoan Cycles of the Sun, the Moon, the Soul & Political Power" (Iraklion, Mystis 2016), based on lectures drawn from "Calendar House: Clues to Minoan Time from Knossos Labyrinth" (2011). Come and enjoy multimedia resources including filmed Native American interviews at ANCIENTLIGHTS.ORG
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