72. Tereus marries Procne

Once upon a time, King Tereus of Thrace, rushed to help King Pandion of Athens, as Athens was attacked by a fierce horde of savage warriors. The valiant deeds of Tereus helped Athens win the battle. Pandion, took note that Tereus was a descendent of Ares, possessed vast wealth, and had also proved his friendship, by supporting Athens in its time of need. Thus impressed, Pandion gave his beloved daughter Procne, in sacred wedlock to Tereus.

However, the wedding was marked by bad omens. Juno, the goddess of the sacred rites did not attend. Hymenaeus, as well as the Graces, also did not come. From funeral pyres that were ablaze on the edge of the city, the Furies snatched burning brands, and made them into torches that lit the wedding hall. As the marriage bed was being prepared, an owl flew over the room of the bride, and did not go away, but sat silently on the roof. These bad omens cast a shadowy sadness on the entire wedding. However, disregarding the omens, the wedding continued and Tereus married Procne. The newly wedded couple left Athens and arrived at Thrace. But even at Thrace, the dire omens continued in one form or another, until Itys, the son of Procne and Tereus, was born.

The birth of Itys, gave the Thracians a reason to be merry and all of Thrace, erupted in festive merriment. The Thracians abandoned all limitations in their celebrations, and in their arrogant rejoicing, they even impudently blessed the Gods, for making the baby Itys see the light of the day. Tereus and Procne ordained that the day of their marriage, shall every year be commemorated as a festival day. Likewise, the birthday of Itys, shall every year be celebrated with banquets, songs, dances and laughter.

But, the ways of Fate are mysterious. By such a veil of present temporary happiness, Fate concealed the future permanent misery, which was to fall on Tereus and Procne, as wretched and unbearable woes.

Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani

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