Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Postcard 72: The Seventh Quarry (& The Women of Linear B)

The Archive Room [where Linear B tablets were found], Palace of Nestor, son of Neleus at sandy Pylos
[Top two photographs copyright David Gill]

Looking out over sandy Pylos

July 2010: my poem,
'The Women of Linear B'
[ref. 15/2005] has just been published in 'The Seventh Quarry' [p.11, issue 12, Summer 2010, editor Peter Thabit Jones].

I have loved the adventurous tales of the Homeric hero Odysseus since childhood, so it is hardly surprising that I went on to take my degree in Classical Studies
[at Newcastle upon Tyne]. It is perhaps not surprising either that I went on to marry a Mediterranean Archaeologist!

I have always been fascinated by the Homeric epithets [and here]: rosy-fingered Dawn and wine-dark Sea come immediately to mind. You may also be familiar with grey-eyed Athena or crafty Odysseus.

Many have heard of Penelope, wife of Odysseus, and her battle with the suitors while her husband was away at the war. The Olympian goddesses play their part in the Homeric epic, along with females of supernatural powers like Circe - and the alluring Sirens, whose songs drove sailors onto the rocks.

Such is the stuff of mythology and epic, but I wanted to look behind what we know as timeless literature (though it actually began as oral poetry, delivered in ring cycles by bards), to see what tasks were being undertaken by the real women - many of them slaves - who lived through most uncertain times.

Linear B tablets, deciphered by Michael Ventris and John Chadwick, provide some clues for the role of those women who beavered away behind the scenes in the area of sandy Pylos, in the western Peloponnese. This was the starting point for my poem.

A Linear B tablet, listing religious offerings of olive oil.
This one is in the British Museum.
This one was not from the mainland:
it was found at Knossos on Crete by Sir Arthur Evans,
and is Minoan [LMII].

N.B. If you would like to take out a subscription
to The Seventh Quarry poetry magazine, details can be found here.

Websites of interest:


The Weaver of Grass said...

Congratulations on the poem Caroline. Lovely photographs of the project - classical mythology is not my thing really but I must say that the names come in very handy when doing Cryptic crosswords, (which is my thing). Nice to read you again - have missed you lately.

April Lorier said...

I, too, have missed you, Caroline. And kudos on your poem! Isn't it amazing how God uses our life experiences to fuel our creativity? Excellent photos and article!