Once upon a time, Tereus, the king of Thrace, to fulfill his wife Procne’s desire to meet her sister Philomela, had brought Philomela from Athens to Thrace. When the ship reached his kingdom, instead of taking Philomela to the palace, he hurriedly took her to the deepest solitary place of an ancient forest, where stood an old sinister house.
In that wretched house, Tereus tried to take advantage of Philomela. With unending streaming tears and piteous cries, the terrified Philomela implored Tereus to spare her, but the stony heart of Tereus did not melt. Using brutal force, while she screamed calling her sister and father, Tereus cruelly raped Philomela several times, until his lust could fulfill no more. Philomela lay unconscious, trembling like a dying lamb, just released from the frothing jaws of a hungry wolf, who had viciously torn his mouthful of flesh.
After some moments, when consciousness returned, in frenzied grief, Philomela beat her chest and tore her hair. Hysterically, with upward arms addressing Heaven, she declared letting everyone know the heinous crime of Tereus. Although such an act would also shame her, yet her voice would echo over the trees exposing Tereus.
Tereus became afraid with guilty fear. He grabbed her arms, bound them against her back, and then drew his sword above her head. Seeing the flashy steel of sharp point, Philomela desiring to die, offered her bare throat. But the other hand of Tereus took pincers, with which he held her tongue. Then swiftly bringing his sword down, he sliced her tongue off. Thus silencing Philomela, the monstrous Tereus again raped her, as if challenging her sliced tongue, to now publish his crime to the whole world. Leaving her imprisoned in that house, Tereus left.
When Procne anxiously inquired about her sister, the vile Tereus, with tears and sighs, told a false story about her death with such mastery that everybody, including Procne, believed him. Procne grieved Philomela’s death.
Excerpt from the book “Once Upon A Time-II: 150 Greek Mythology Stories” by Rajen Jani