Trying to figure out where to take the myths

Published September 6, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I’m starting to feel like I’m running out of myths to re-tell because I can’t start the major cycles–Heracles, the voyage of the Argo, the Trojan War–without deciding how to make the life of Heracles intersect with his time as an Argonaut, and without figuring how in the heck the life of Heracles works with the Theban cycle, considering he’s supposedly Theban, and yet why wouldn’t he have interfered in all that stuff?

There are also many other myths I’ve left out because I have to figure out how to handle them, not so much in chronological concerns like with the major cycles, but because the variations are so variant.  There’s the conflicting birth of Athene and birth of Hephaistos stories, for example.  Was Hephaistos the one to crack open Zeus’ skull to let Athene out, or did Hera give birth to him without the aid of Zeus because she was jealous that Zeus had give birth to Athene without the help of a woman?  For that matter, is Athene the daughter of Zeus alone, or did he swallow Metis because she was pregnant, not because he wanted her wisdom for himself?  These are all genuine variants from ancient sources, so each is just as “real” as the other.

I also still haven’t done Typhon yet, but that ties into the previous concern, because there are versions where Hera gave birth to Typhon–seemingly impregnated by Gaia!–because of the same jealousy over the birth of Athene that led to the birth of Hephaistos in the other variation I mentioned earlier.  So basically I see the following possible versions:

  1. Zeus gives birth to Athene -> Hera gives birth to Hephaistos unaided -> Typhon just happens
  2. Hephaistos is born to Zeus and Hera -> Zeus gives birth to Athene with Hephaistos’ help -> Hera gives birth to Typhon in jealousy over the birth of Athene

Hmm, I thought there were going to be more than two, but I’m not thinking of further combinations, for some reason.  (Which is annoying, because I’m pretty sure I’d thought of more of them before I started writing them down!)

The problem is that I’ve been preferring to go with lesser known variants, right?  So in both cases, we have a mix of lesser known and commonly known ones.  I guess the first one actually has two lesser known versions, and one more commonly known one, but the one where Hera gives birth to Typhon is a pretty huge variant.  On the other hand, it’s also a variant that paints poor Hera as the villainess once again, so maybe I should avoid it for that reason.

I don’t have to worry about this just yet–the minor myths of Dionysos will keep me covered for a few more weeks–but then I do need to start figuring this out.

Oh, yeah, I need to figure out how Theseus fits into the chronology of various other places and people, too.  I keep leaving him out for some reason, but knowing his chronology is important given his abduction of the underage Helen, and Medea often plays a role in his return to Athens after Crete, though I’m not sure I want to have that happen, given the way Medea’s usually depicted in that story…

So…yeah…I don’t know quite what to do.  Any thoughts?

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