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A clay tablet narrating a rare audience with an ancient king.
Crimson columns still stand on Crete’s ancient sites, a lasting memory of a bygone era. The labyrinthine Palace of Knossos, albeit consumed and rotted, outlived kings and gods.
This tablet is decorated with repetitive column motifs, but close scrutiny reveals trace amounts of rare, precious treasure powdered over it: saffron.
The tablet reads:
King Minos’ atop of his crimson palace refused to grant us audience,
bust swift-footed I hunted the wild ibex’s of his coast and feasted with his people.
The leather I fashioned into clothes, for my father first and for Cretans seconds.
I harvested the saffron and grains, a guest was I among each of Knossos’ families
until they all heard of my father’s woeful tale and were incited to rage against the gods.
King Minos feared our tale and the spread of impiety among the populace.
Under cover of night we were taken to his court, pushed across the rows of crimson columns.
We were fed and clothed with Cretes’ traditional attires, and my father I bathed
for only I know how to handle his skin, more delicate than the asphodel’s petals.
At lon last we arrived at his court, then I carried father against my chest like a newborn.
Over a straw mat I laid him for the king to see the woe born from Zeus’ blessing
and pleaded for Hephaistos’ crecent moons, his finest creation
which cleaved Zeus’ skill and so gave birth to Athena, ever wiser than her father.
For it’s a son’s duty to care for his parents during their old age,
And ‘tis my duty to release father from his everlasting ailment.
I am Laomedon, son of undying Tithonus, abandoned husband to witless Eos
and I seek Crete’s Labrys, so sharp as to cut his immortal Fates-woven thread.
For such a wretched, accursed pair no cost is too great, no load too terrible.