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"Ptolemaea" (originally titled "Sempervirens") is a song by Ethel Cain from her debut album, Preacher's Daughter. It was written and produced in collaboration with Matthew Tomasi, who also shares a producing credit on "August Underground".

Background[]

In June 2022, Ethel posted a download link consisting of Preacher's Daughter demos which lowkey included one demo of this song under its assumed working title, "Sempervirens".[1] The last change to the track file was made in October 2021. Before being called "Sempervirens" it was originally called "Shenandoah"

On December 31, 2022, an instrumental and a capella of the song leaked.

Writing and inspiration[]

The song was named after one of four concentric rings of the Ninth Circle of Hell as depicted in Dante’s Inferno, dedicated to those who betrayed their guests, which immediately struck a chord with Ethel.

“I was immediately like, ‘That’s how it feels.’ When someone invites you in, brings you into their life, just to hurt you. I was scared of the demo the next day when I listened to it.”[2]

Theme[]

On the record’s heaviest track, under the influence of Isaiah’s drugs, Cain begins to hallucinate and confronts the darkness she feels surrounding her.[3]

Ptolemea, named after Ptolemy, is one of the four concentric rings in the 9th circle of Hell in which the traitorous reside. This ring is for those who betray their guests, however it ought not be overlooked that the first of the concentric rings is named after Cain (biblical) who killed his brother, and hence that ring is for traitors to their family. Maybe this is a further connection to Ethel Cain's fate, and a reference to Ethel abandoning her family and faith — only to be met with a wrath far worse.[4]

Official versions[]

  • Album version — 6:24
    • Instrumental version — 6:23
    • A capella — 6:23
  • Demo version ("Sempervirens") — 3:08

Lyrics[]

I followed you in
I was with you there
I invited you in
Twice, I did
You love blood too much
But not like I do
Not like I do

Heard you, saw you, felt you, gave you
Need you, love you, love you, love you
Heard you, saw you, felt you, gave you
Need you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, saw you, love you, gave you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, saw you, felt you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
Love you, love you, love you, love you
You'd do well to say yes to me

Suffer does the wolf, crawling to thee
Promising a big fire, any fire
Saying I'm the one, he's gonna take me
I'm on fire, I'm on fire, I'm on fire
Suffering is nigh, drawing to me
Calling me the one, I'm the white light
Beautiful, finite

Even the iron still fears the rot
Hiding from something I cannot stop
Walking on shadows, I can't lead him back
Buckled on the floor when night comes along
Daddy's left and Mama won't come home

You poor thing
Sweet, mourning lamb
There's nothing you can do
It's already been done

What fear a man like you brings upon a woman like me (show me your face)
Please don't look at me
I can see it in your eyes
He keeps looking at me
Tell me, what have you done
Stop, stop, stop, make it stop, stop
Make it stop
Make it stop, I've had enough
Stop, stop, stop, stop

I am the face of love's rage
I am the face of love's rage

Blessed be the Daughters of Cain,
bound to suffering eternal through the sins of their fathers committed long before their conception
Blessed be their whore mothers, tired and angry waiting with bated breath in a ferry that will never move again
Blessed be the children, each and every one come to know their god through some senseless act of violence
Blessed be you, girl, promised to me by a man who can only feel hatred and contempt towards you
I am no good nor evil, simply I am, and I have come to take what is mine
I was there in the dark when you spilled your first blood
I am here now as you run from me still
Run then, child
You can't hide from me forever

References[]

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