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In the Athens Novel:


It is my great honor to serve as handmaiden to the High Priestess of Athena. She has taken a liking to me above all the other novices and allows me the freedom of her chambers. She has taught me much and though I am but a girl from the country, she tells me that I have great promise as a servant of our Lady Athena. This is the opportunity for which my parents hoped when they sent me to the temple when I was but a small girl, since I am ugly and there was not enough money for a dowry to purchase a husband for one such as I.


I've known I was ugly since I was just a litle girl. The neighbors were always tsk, tsking at my mother, ever offering their sympathy to her. Then there were the others, who thought the mark on my face was a curse, and berated my mother for not having exposed me when I was but a baby, or who made signs against evil whenever they saw me.

Though my mother and father loved me dearly, I was a lonely child. The other girls were not allowed near me, lest I taint their chances at a good marriage or worse, curse them. My brother was fifteen years older than I, and was already gone from home by the time I'd arrived. I saw him from time to time when he visited, but he had no use for any child, especially a girl child.

My father was a farmer, and though he was successful, my parents knew they would never have enough money to purchase a husband for me. So when I was ten, they arranged with the High Priestess of Athena in Athens to take me in as an accolyte. They still had to pay, but not nearly so much. They visited me regularly in the beginning, but now they do not come so much, only at festivals for Athena, and then I never really know if they're coming to see me or if they're only in the City for the rituals. My mother is grey-headed now, and my father is stooped from his long labours in the fields. I was a late baby for them, a surprise I think, and I fear that my parents will not live many more years.

When I first came to the temple, I had no experience of other girls and I was very shy. These girls were afraid of my birthmark too, but the High Priestess told them that it was the mark of Athena, and that it made me special to the Goddess. After a time, I was accepted by the other girls, though I still have no close friends, even after six years in the service of Athena.

The High Priestess took a special interest in me though, and saw to it that I had an education far beyond that of most women of my time. I can read and write and I have free access to all the scrolls in Athena's temple, and those of the other temples on the Acropolis as well. I believe that my mentor is grooming me to take her place, and until recently, I could imagine no other life but one dedicated to Athena.

Lately though, I have begun to imagine what life might be like down in the City, what it would be like to freely roam about, to visit the shops and tavernas, to live my day without the constant bells and the demands from the whining supplicants who did not get what they wished from Athena. Sometimes, I even wonder what it would be like to be married to one of the many attractive young men I have seen around the temple. But then, I know none of them would have me, what with the mark on my face.







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