Historical setting: 6th Century C.E. Somewhere in the Pyrenees
We stopped at a place with houses hoping to fill our grain sack, but we have been escorted into a most unusual world. In this place the people carve Roman pagan gods and goddesses from stone to be sold at a summer marketplace.
Nic takes notice of a stone carving of a popular Gallo-Roman fertility goddess. She is a design of rounded, smoothed and meticulously polished spheres of stone. Her abundant thighs spread to hold a bowl of grain in her lap. Unfortunately for us who are seeking grain, it isn’t real grain; it is just a likeness of grain carved of stone. Her long tunic drapes across her knees to her ankles. The broadness of her arms and the fat of her chin and cheeks speak of plenty and of course, it can’t go unnoticed that her breasts are abundant.
Just imagine the prayers that some lean and longing farmer may bring with his sacrifice to her amid a drought, bowing deep before her knees to speak his wish or at least a hope for a better harvest to come.
Antton notices Nic’s interest. “If you would like to order such a carving it can be hewn in dimensions to fit your need, perhaps as a personal charm to carry with you in your travels.”
Nic answers with his rural simplicity. “No need. It’s just that I’ve never seen this goddess so ample, and particularly in a time when I am the one who is hungry for the grain in her dish.”
“I understand. And such a carving would hardly be appropriate for a man on horseback. This one was made on order for a particular client — a man of great wealth who maintains a private temple in a distant villa. But she will just have to sit here until the weather is better for travel.”
“If you order a goddess for your own wishes her bowl of plenty can contain whatever may be the benefits of fertility you long after: grain, fruits, whatever — and we can even render her tunic folded back in any style you wish.”
“No, no. Any fuller revelations of this goddess would surely be disturbing to me. And of course we have no use for statuary. Laz and I are of the Christian conviction so we don’t make wishes on stone.”
(Continues Tuesday, December 22)
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