73. Tereus sails away with Philomela

Once upon a time, Procne, the daughter of King Pandion of Athens, told her husband Tereus, the king of Thrace, that she desired to meet her beloved sister Philomela. Tereus set out on his long ships and landed on the fortified Piraeus. After greeting his father-in-law, Tereus recounted the desire of Procne and asked Pandion, to allow him to take Philomela, for a brief visit to Thrace.

While Tereus was expressing Procne’s wish, Philomela appeared richly attired in glittering royal robes, but which seemed less brilliant, being overshadowed by her own virgin radiance, sparkling charm, and glowing beauty. As soon as Tereus saw the blushing loveliness of the beautiful Philomela, he was consumed with love for her. But his love was not a worthy love, rather it was a base, lusty, and criminal love, which burned with unholy fires of lawless character. His frenzied heart desired Philomela at any cost. His wicked mind thought of bribing her trusted maids, or corrupting her virtue with most expensive gifts, or seizing her by waging war against Athens.

But as he was in the royal court of Pandion, Tereus utilized skillful duplicity and poignant acting. Pretending to lend voice to Procne’s wish of Philomela visiting her, the evil mouth of Tereus begged Philomela with passionate words, which became all the more eloquent, being waxed by his own desire. His eyes brimmed with tears, as if Procne herself was lovingly pleading Philomela, to come. Pandion and all the courtiers were moved. Philomela sweetly embraced her father and asked for his permission, to visit her dear sister Procne. The old king consented for her to depart with Tereus, on the next day at morning.

At night, the frenzy of Tereus pictured Philomela’s beauties yet unseen, and as frenzy feeds on itself, Tereus remained sleepless all night. At daybreak, Philomela sailed for Thrace along with Tereus, who throughout the journey, devoured her with wicked, lustful eyes.

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

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