Cratus Eppilus

The Aegean
850 BC.

Aeronis Eppilus watched with pride, as his small son Cratus struggled up the gangway carring a sack of grain that must have weighed nearly as much as the boy did. He turned to Virgil Supolus; Captain of the Senneca berthed along side; who now stood next to him and said. “One day he shall be a sailor and command his own ship. But when that time comes he will be ready because Cratus will learn the trade from the ground up just as you and I did.”

Cratus Eppilus felt the ship his father called the Delium, named for the city of his birth, wallowing deeper into the seas by the moment, rising ever more sluggishly, as each succeeding wave crashed over its bow. With a cargo of 70 tons of lead ingots, picked up at Clazomenae on the Ionian coast, they were headed back to Greece. The lead could be sold at a nice profit, turned into urns and fine drinking vessels.

Aeronis had sailed the shallow, usually calm waters of the Aegean all of his life. From the Thracian ports of Adebera and Cardia in the north to Mysia, Lydia, and far off Lycia in the east, he had spent nearly 30 years at sea. First he sailed for his father and then some ten years ago became the master of his own ship. He had learned never to stray far from land and to heed all signs of changing weather. He knew to flee into harbor when ever storms threatened. He thought he had seen all that nature had to offer in the way of danger to a sailor and was prepared for any eventuality. He was wrong.

The wind, with uncharacteristic speed had driven in from the north-east. There had not been the slightest warning. He was only hours away from the harbor at Athens when the Delium was dismasted. With even a little warning he could have reefed the sail and maintained steerage but there had been no warning. For the last two terrible days he had been at the mercy of the storm.

With no way to steer and in water too deep for anchorage, he had been pushed further and further to the south. Blown beyond Corinth and the Kingdom of Sparta he was swept into the Mediterranean towards the rocky shores of Melos.

A more forbidding resting place could not be imagined. Cratus had been to the island a dozen times before. It was, and had been, for hundreds of years, a primary source of the black rock obsidian, used in the making of all types of cutting utensils, spearheads and arrow points. Approach to its rugged shore must be accomplished slowly and with great care. The Venus de Milo, now in the Lourve Museum, Paris, would be found on this Island in 1820 AD, but today there was no hint of beauty in the view ahead.

Cratus was so close to the jutting rocks on the island’s shore that he could hear the crash of the waves even above the general din of the storm. Had the Bark been more lightly loaded there might have been some hope that it be blown onto the rocky shore. As it was, fully loaded and filled with water below deck, the Delium was riding too low. Its bottom was ripped out by a jagged spire thrusting upwards from deep.

Still far from shore she sank, with cargo intact and all on board praying to their personal Gods, perished.