Postcards from the Underworld: A Tale of the Good and Bad Shepherds

Aetos, Ithaka, Greece
A hot June afternoon

This is the Good Shepherd. Every morning we would drive up to the base of a small mountain enveloped in Athena's mists to start our day's work, excavating this ancient soil, searching for the palace of the famed Odysseus. In the distance we would hear the Good Shepherd's sheep; never seen - hidden in the shadows beneath the peak - but their bells with their haunting rattle, pealing out into the valley.

We had heard the rumors, the whispers, about his brother; the brother who drank Sterno. Beat his wife. We saw him rarely, appearing around the misshapen rosemary bushes the size of washing machines, the clatter of bells as the sheep followed him into the dark ravines. The island was filled with characters, and everybody had a nickname. The brother's was easy: the Bad Shepherd.

The Good Shepherd came around the dig more often. Years ago, one sunny Sunday afternoon, he put a goat on a spit and roasted it for our team. 

We sat beneath the olive trees to eat, read the Odyssey,

and do what shepherds do in the midday

Although he has most likely passed on in the years since, I think of the Good Shepherd when I stand at the base of Aetos and still hear the bells of his sheep, echoing through the vale. 

I don't recall his name. But looking back on these images, and remembering him: ever regal, aware of the soil around him as if this ancient landscape was an extension of his very self, there is no doubt in my mind he is a descendant of Odysseus. 

Bottom image by William Yonker


  1. I think so too. He has the look of someone who surveys his surroundings with a certain regal pride.

  2. A life beautifully-lived, Amanda.

  3. He's bound to his land and its rhythms, bound to its pulls and sways, and needs no other explanation of life's mysteries.

  4. Beautiful post. It is why I love blogging.

  5. what a wonderful story - I agree that he is a descendent of a greek god (sort of eh?)

    1. Mim, One of Odysseus' most attractive features was that he wasn't a god, just an ordinary man having extraordinary - however god-like - experiences!

  6. Like Rosaria said. It's none to often that real live authentic simple salt of the earth people come into our lives. So, when they do we never forget them.

  7. Rubye - So good to 'see' you here in the blogworld! When can we expect the pleasure of an upcoming post over at Rubye Jack?

  8. Your posts are always so good. Not remembering his name makes the story even better :-)

  9. A natural son of Odysseus in is natural setting. What could be more appropriate?

    Blessings and Bear hugs!


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