I know they say I was a priestess of Athene. But I wasn’t, Keke. Not yet any way. Listen and remember. Listen and I will not harm you.
I was making my way to her temple to leave an offering. It was dusk and I had snuck away to do this as Father didn’t want me leaving home so close to dark. I was hit from behind.
When I came to, my hands were tied and my skirts were thrown over my head. I couldn’t see and I couldn’t move. I could hear grunting. I could smell the sea on this man and I could feel pain as he raped me. I sought oblivion to escape.
When I awoke, my hands were free and I ached from the waist down. It was so dark, I could not see where I was. Someone called my name, so I cried out asking for help. My brothers came in, carrying torches. It was only then that I realized where I was. Athene’s temple. He raped me in her temple!
My brothers were sent by my father to look for me. When they realized what happened, they moved away from me in shame and disgust. They blamed me for what happened. They told me I should have never left home. They made no effort to learn who did this. I flung myself at them, tears streaming from my eyes. They pushed me away. When I started to run, I was grabbed by the wrist and drug home.
My brothers flung me to the ground before our father. Telling him what had occurred. He grew angry. He yelled at me. He kicked at me. Then he had my brothers throw me out into the street. I was his daughter no longer.
I wandered the night. Jumping at every shadow, afraid of every noise. I don’t know how I got there but I found myself outside Athene’s temple. Afraid to enter, afraid to go anywhere else. I found a nearby bucket of water and cleaned myself as best as I could. I entered and threw myself down on the floor begging Athene for forgiveness, for help. I had nowhere to go. By raping me, that man had killed me. Hearing a noise, I froze afraid the man had returned. But no. It wasn’t him. I didn’t move as I had no understanding of that quiet noise that encircled me. For the remainder of the night, I laid there. Prayed to my Lady. Praying for help, for guidance, for protection…for revenge. Revenge against the males of my race. For it was a male that took from me and males that threw me to the dogs.
As the sun arose and lit the temple, I could finally see what made that noise. I was surrounded by snakes. Athene’s temple snakes. It was as if I was within a ring of protection. “Let me be as these snakes,” I said. “Let me stay here, guarding and protecting your temple. Let me strike fear into the hearts of men, as they struck fear into the heart of me.” All at once these snakes lunged at me. Oh the pain. I did not understand what was in store for me. When I became conscious again, when the pain was gone, I was afraid to move. I could still hear the snakes, they were so close. I tried to stand, to run away. I had no legs with which to stand. I started to flail in my panic to only have my arms trapped by my hair, which was no longer hair. The hissing from my head soothed me. As I calmed down so did that upon my head, eventually my arms were freed. I slowly made my way over to a shiny shield left by some devotee. I saw what you see now. Me but no longer me. Where I had legs, was now a serpentine tail. My beautiful hair had been transformed into semi-autonomous snakes which had pinned my arms to keep me from doing them and myself injury. Praise Athene, I could no longer be hurt by man and would no longer be afraid.
I hid myself for a long time. I hid until I knew how to move in my new body. Until I knew how to take out those who had caused me so much pain. I didn’t find out what my gaze could do until the first warrior tried to kill me. I laughed and laughed. I praised Athene and laughed some more.
Sometime after that I encountered my first woman. Surprisingly, she didn’t turn to stone though I think she wished she could, so scared was she. Just as you wish you could turn to stone. But I need you to record my story, Keke. For my tale will soon come to an end. I am tired. I am ready to leave behind this mortal shell. I have asked Athene to release me. I want to see my mother again and my sisters who are long dead. Yet someone should know the truth. Some should know why Athene transformed me. Someone should know that I am this way through her grace not her anger. Athene understands a woman’s need to be strong and unafraid. I know not how she will bring my life to a close and I care not. I know that through her wisdom, she will make sure my death has meaning just as my life through her had meaning. Praise Athene, Keke. Praise Athene and tell my tale.
Hush. Someone comes.