To Herkyna

Hail Goddess Herkyna, you who loaned your name
to the river in Lebadeia where those who wish to consult
the oracle of your father Trophonios first must bathe.
They say that the river came to be in the following manner;
before she was the wife of Haides and the Chthonic Queen
Kore who delights in flowers was your girlhood friend,
and often the two of you would play among the vales
and caverns near your home. As a token of affection you gave
her a goose from your father’s pen as a pet, and for weeks
thereafter she was never seen without it. But then one day
as she was plaiting crowns in a meadow and you were dancing
to entertain the daughter of Demeter the goose jumped from her
lap and ran away, with you girls giving chase. It found its way
into a cave and hid under a rock until Kore came and lifted up
the rock. Then a great gush of water sprang from where the rock
had been, carrying her far away to another land. As day
turned into night and then back into day you searched all
along the muddy banks of the river with Despoina and her
grieving mother but found no sign of where dear Kore had gone.
Driven mad from despair and fear that she would never be found,
you flung yourself from the heights and into the rushing water
where you drowned, and thereafter the river came to be known
by your name. Because you had loved her daughter so
Demeter placed your soul in the body of the goose
she loved above all things, and gave you to Persephone
at her marriage feast, so that you could remain by her side
even when she was down below with Haides.
So hail to you Herkyna, companion and trusted confidant,
and I pray, please say a kind word concerning me
when it is my time to come before the infernal tribunal.

4 thoughts on “To Herkyna

  1. I’m always fascinated by Deities for Whom the goose is a sacred animal. Geese are ferocious animals. They have teeth on their tongues. They bite and guard their own without yielding.


  2. Whoa! I wondered why their tongues looked rough like that.

    They make excellent watch animals.

    As an aside, I’ve found untrustworthy and abusive people to be very afraid of geese. And not just a healthy caution and respect for a territorial animal, no. Like phobia, aversion, even hatred. One of them used to totally avoid parks and bodies of water because of it.


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