The Lily and the Bull

Overview

The Lily And the Bull is a compelling re-creation of life in Minoan Crete - a world of magic and mystery, ritual and superstition, where past and present intersect, the forces of good and evil clash, and everyday life is charged with the supernatural...

Ierii, the daughter of the chief gardener at the palace, is in love with Thyloss, the son of the keeper of the Queen's bulls. Thyloss, who is looking forward to a future as a bull acrobat - a ...

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Overview

The Lily And the Bull is a compelling re-creation of life in Minoan Crete - a world of magic and mystery, ritual and superstition, where past and present intersect, the forces of good and evil clash, and everyday life is charged with the supernatural...

Ierii, the daughter of the chief gardener at the palace, is in love with Thyloss, the son of the keeper of the Queen's bulls. Thyloss, who is looking forward to a future as a bull acrobat - a position of great importance - finds his feelings for Ierii gradually changing.

But their hopes are shaken by events beyond their control.

The Minoan civilisation, one of the greatest the world has known, suddenly and mysteriously came to an end sometime during the period 1600-1450BC, baffling present day historians and archaeologists alike. One of the most persistent theories is that it was fatally damaged by the immense volcanic eruption on the nearby island of Thera (Santorini).

This story charts the dramatic events during the last days of Ma-ii, a city on the north coast of Crete.

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Editorial Reviews

American Library Booklist
[Moyra Caldecott's] work is equally compelling as psychological or historical fiction.
Glasgow Herald
[Moyra Caldecott] is so immersed in her subject that no trace of fantasising or contrivance is apparent ... she lives her work. Because it is so well done it is believable...
Soluna
[Moyra Caldecott] uses the vehicle of fiction and the imagination...as a means of perceiving another reality and view of life...what might be called a mythological consciousness.
Times Educational Supplement
She uses the substance of legends, the ancient symbolism of religion and folklore...combining an unsentimental mysticism with a compassionate understanding of human relations.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780809065721
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 8/1/1979
  • Pages: 192

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1 —Encounter on the Mountain

Ierii had climbed much higher than she had intended, and clouds were lowering fast over the mountains, the peaks of solid rock disappearing into the whiteness, suggesting mysterious heights beyond their known limits.

She had been watching her sandalled feet on the rocks, continually sidestepping to avoid the sharp thorns of the bushes, when she suddenly noticed that the sun no longer warmed her skin and that she was cocooned in heavy mist. Her vision now could reach no further than her outstretched hand.

At first she was not worried, even though she had heard tales of people falling to their death in the mountains when the sky was hostile. She turned to descend, confident that she could find the way. She moved swiftly, sure that the quickly falling mist could not have hidden much of the path between herself and her home.

But she was wrong. The more she moved, the more completely she seemed to be enveloped.

She came to the sharp edge of a rock and found that it dropped away abruptly below her. A small stone that her foot dislodged slipped over the edge and was a long time falling.

She paused. For the first time the cold of the mist seemed to be inside her.

She did not remember this rock, this cliff. She shivered, feeling very much alone.

Surely she could not be far from familiar ground?

She tried to walk to the left, but the rocks were impassable. To the right she found a narrow passage, and carefully picked her way, trying fearfully every moment for safer footing.

By the time she found it she was a long way from where she thought she should have been. She rememberedadvice others had given: take no step upon the mountain if you cannot see. But if she did not move she might be there into the night.

It had become very cold, and her thin clothes were already damp. She cursed herself for being such a fool, setting off so impulsively without checking signs. The mountain always gave signs. The wind spoke. The birds could tell what weather was coming long before it came.

She had wanted to be alone, but not like this.

There were times when she could not stay in the town: times when she felt as though the thin veil that kept her separate as Ierii from the rest of the world no longer protected her, and all the loves, the hates, the pain, the anxieties of others were crowding in on her. At such times she would flee to the mountains, and in the quiet among the ancient rocks she would find herself again. But now she thought with nostalgia of the busy town on the plain far below her, between the mountains and the sea, and of Thyloss, whom she loved, but who she felt did not yet love her.

She stood still, the cold filaments of cloud touching her skin. But even as she neared despair, in the swirling whiteness that flowed everywhere about her, she felt the sudden haunting warmth of another's presence.

She could see no one.

She called. 'Who is there?'

She listened, but there was no answer. Perhaps the mist had muffled the sound of her voice. Her throat ached with tears she fought to keep from rising.

Then something moved above her, to the right. Anxiously, she strained to see through the mist.

Suddenly it seemed to part and, as clearly as if it were a sunny day, she saw a woman of great beauty standing on a rock, shining from the mist like a white lily from the shade of leaves. She was taller than most women, her hair white as the moon, and her eyes dark and unfathomable. Ierii gasped, her hands at her mouth.

'It is the Lady herself!' she whispered. 'the Mother of the Earth!'

She was filled with awe, her heart beating so loudly and rapidly that she could feel it in her throat.

Copyright © 1979, Moyra Caldecott.

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