Today is the day in our Trophimoi festival on which we honor Appia Annia Regilla, the wife of Herodes Attikos, and the other individual connected to Herodes Attikos and his family who was heroized in a manner that went beyond Herodes’ own circle. You can read more about last year’s festival here, and more about Regilla here as well.
Comparatively, we know a great deal about her; but, we also know far less than we’d like to (or, I’ll say for myself, far less than I’d like to), including her definite dates of birth and death.
Of the various poems and such I’ve written this week (and on one such thing, I have to make a correction below), this one has been the hardest, and practically nothing came from it every time I tried to do it. I got two verses in, and just wasn’t feeling it, after an initial attempt that went nowhere; and I tried again several times, but nothing worked. Then, I just gave in to the desolation of the matter, and there it was…I’ll admit, it’s not the best thing I’ve ever written, but at the same time, I think it does convey what some of the desolation that Herodes Attikos must have felt was like. Note, it is not written as Herodes (which becomes clearer later in the poem), so don’t get that idea as you read it initially!
Appia Annia Regilla, Light of Marathon
Of the race of Aeneas,
descendant of Aphrodite,
heroine of Herodes Attikos
in the blessed isles of Kronos;
Priestess of Agatha Tyche
in the city of Athena,
colleague of Demeter
of Eleusinian fame…
No, I cannot complete this honoring
of Regilla, these are only words,
whether on stone or in song.
She was a woman, a body and a soul
alive and incarnate, and now she is dead.
In life, she brought seven others forth
to be bodies and souls as well,
and now, only one survives.
Her husband has become the bedfellow of grief
so often that its absence is unusual.
He has become Orpheus, but he cannot descend;
and Polydeukion like Dionysos,
but he cannot make Semele immortal himself.
How cruel that the first priestess of Agatha Tyche
was not favored by Bona Fortuna…
But, memorials must be made,
for those that commission them.
I’ve noticed that the poems I’ve written this past week for Memnon, Achilles, and Polydeukion, and the one I wrote in the voice of Attikos Bradua, have all been rather somber, and have had death as a major element in them. This one, of course, is the same. I wonder if this is a kind of expectable pendulum swing to balance out the appearance of these figures–including Regilla and Herodes–in the myth of the Tetrad, in which there is great exuberance, vitality, and fertility on their parts…
Also, I have a major correction to report on Regillus, which I spoke of briefly here the other day. I had mentioned that Regillus was a hearth-initiate of Eleusis, and the inscription for it survives…and then I didn’t give it in that entry. Well, I was wrong: inscriptions for Regillus do survive, but he was not (at least that we know of) a hearth-initiate of Eleusis. But, Attikos Bradua was. So, all the more reason to have Attikos Bradua be that much higher in importance amongst us now than he has been previously…After all, he was the only son of a divine heroine to survive his father–and that does say something!
Praise to Appia Annia Regilla! Praise to Herodes Attikos! Praise to all the Trophimoi!