Sing, Goddess, of the heroism of Agamemnon’s daughter Iphigenia

inspired by aeschylus’ oresteia

strong-born is your name, and it shows in the proud jut of your chin, the way your broad shoulders are a mirror of your father’s. king of men, they call him, and you know that his obligations are many but never imagine that they will touch you. had you been born a boy, you would assume his mantle one day; as it is, you are too strong-willed for the ladies and too weak-spirited for the men.

you hear of helen in broken whispers, piece the rumors together like a puzzle. it hardly surprises you when war is declared, when the ships prepare to embark—eras may pass, but men will always break themselves for beautiful women. watching as troops prepare themselves, you clench your fists, try to ignore the uselessness inherent in your soft palms and rounded hips. the fighting spirit beating in your breast means nothing when you are fated for motherhood.

an uneasy beast crouches over the people in the coming weeks. the winds are rough, they say, the weather unfit for sailing. it’s an omen if you’ve ever seen one, and you wonder what has made the gods displeased, wonder if there is anything you can do to remedy it. you get your answer several sunrises later when father comes to you at dawn, jaw clenched and eyes red. in the end, you bind your own ankles, hold yourself still as your wrists are pinned together. father’s sorrow and mother’s horror mean nothing, not when athena has made her demands.

girl of tears, they call you. they do not know that you knelt at the altar willingly, that you did not close your eyes when the blade touched your throat. they will call you victim, wrap their mouths around the shape of your name until it becomes little more than a legend. but the gods will remember the proud jut of your chin, your too-broad shoulders—born of strength.

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