All posts tagged Hephaistos

W is for Wayland

Published April 27, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros


Or Weland, Wieland or Volund.  So I probably should have gone with “Volund” yesterday, and found something else for today.  *sigh*

So, Wayland — however you want to spell his name — was a god and a blacksmith.  I’m going with the Anglo-Saxon name, but his story doesn’t actually differ from the Norse or Teutonic versions…except that in some of those there are Valkyries.  You may have heard of some of the things Wayland created:  he made Beowulf’s chainmail, the swords Gram, Balmung and Durandal, and it was claimed that he built all those stone circles and ancient barrows in England, as well as the chalk figures on the hills in the southern part of the country.

Wayland’s tale begins when he and his brothers encounter some swan maidens, and decide to settle down with them.  (This is where the Valkyries are in some of the Norse versions, needless to say.)  It goes great for a while, but then the swan maidens leave.  None of my sources say why, but if they were swan maidens, maybe they just found their wings/flying robes/whatevers and flew off again, as swan maidens usually do.

In any case, Wayland and his brothers want to find their brides again, and they all set out to search for them, but they’d never seen any movies (well, obviously) and so they split up.

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Published February 19, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Sorry this is a day late.  It’s been busy here of late.  (Having my class on Wednesday actually seems to make getting the myths ready harder instead of easier; Thursday has become reserved for trying to clean my house, doing laundry, and, naturally, for the first big push to get through my reading for the week.  Maybe I should move these to Tuesdays for the remainder of the semester…)

Anyway, this follows pretty soon after last week’s myth.  Er, it starts then, anyway.  Then it sort of skips ahead to after the birth of Apollo and Artemis…and the birth of Hermes, for that matter.

Every time Hera looked at her new step-daughter, Athene, she felt herself filling with a jealous rage.

There was a beautiful, perfect goddess, born from her husband’s head without the aid of a woman at all (or so Hera thought, as Zeus hadn’t admitted Metis’ role),  and yet look at the son Hera had borne him!  Hephaistos was a sweet child, but so ugly to look at, and deformed as well!  How could a mere male have produced a more perfect child than Hera herself?!

The more she thought about it, and the more she saw her husband preferring his daughter to their son, the more she grew to hate everything, and she began to quarrel with Zeus more and more often.

The final blow was, perhaps, when the children tried to intervene in the fight.

It wasn’t a quarrel over anything serious, not anything more serious than usual, at any rate.  By the time the other gods became aware of it, Hera and Zeus were screaming at each other with barely contained hatred, and the other gods could only gather around them in fear and uncertainty.

But Hephaistos wasn’t afraid, and he limped his way in between them, facing Zeus.  “Father, please stop this,” he said.  “Mother’s right; you — ”

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The Birth of Athene

Published February 11, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, I know that last week I said I was going to go into Asclepios’ life and death this week, but…actually, there really isn’t much to tell, and I already told what little there was at the beginning of the story of Admetos and Alcestis.  So I thought I should get to finishing up with the general theogony.  I’m not entirely pleased with either of my available choices regarding the birth of Hephaistos, but it seems that among the Archaic sources, Homer makes Zeus the father, and Hesiod makes him fatherless, and when it’s a contest between those two, I have to go with Homer, so…yeah, going with that version.  The reason I’m making his birth so closely correspond to Athene’s in time is to make Hera’s complaints/actions next week make a little more sense…if any of this can rightly be claimed to make any kind of “sense.”

And I’m gonna go ahead and put in a “read more” tag right away, ’cause this gets a little PG-13 (in concept, not in language) pretty much from the word “Go.”  (Which is odd, considering it’s building up to the birth of a virgin goddess…)

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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?

Prometheus Ticks off Zeus, Part 5

Published August 27, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Due to having somehow forgotten my password and not wanting to screen-type on my iPad (I gotta re-charge that keyboard!) I’m having to type this in on a school word processor between my classes. Life is weird.

(My own danged fault for having nearly 4 hours of down time between classes on Thursdays, I know. But…what was I gonna do about it? I can’t change when they decided to schedule the classes!)

Anyway! The keyboard on this computer hates me, and the screen is too high. Plus I don’t have my wrist braces. This will not end well. (Um. That wasn’t where that “Anyway!” was supposed to be going…)

This time, there’s a pretty significant time lapse between part 4 and part 5. Not sure how long, though. Actually, it might not be that significant. It’s indeterminate, let’s say.

After humans had finally spread themselves across the land, and the gods were relegated—mostly—to hidden actions, Prometheus felt more comfortable living as he pleased upon the land, taking up residence in this or that isolated place. But he was always dismayed when he heard the cries of lesser divinities: divine maidens robbed of their maidenhead, fathers robbed of daughters, brothers robbed of sisters…and always due to the lust of the gods. (As much as Prometheus would have liked to blame his personal foe Zeus for it all, he was a fair Titan, and had to admit that Poseidon was nearly as desirous as his brother, and Zeus’ sons Apollo and Hermes had pursued more than their fair share of unwilling maidens, particularly Apollo, who seemed to have a sweet spot for the few maids who were unwon by his pretty face.)

For the most part, Prometheus tried to turn a blind eye to this suffering. After all, he knew it would lead to the downfall of the Olympian reign of Zeus. Zeus’ desire was his weakness, the chink in his armor that would destroy him.

But then there came a time when Prometheus could not stand by and do nothing. He was sitting upon the slope of a mountainside when a nymph, the daughter of the local river god, came running up to him, weeping. “Please, rescue me!” she begged. “I swore to remain chaste, in service to the virgin huntress!”

Prometheus did not have much more sympathy for Zeus’ female offspring than he did for the male offspring—why would he?—but he certainly felt sorry for the nymph. “Who’s after you?” he asked, hoping against hope that it would be someone pliable and easily sent away.

The nymph only bit her lip and wouldn’t answer, weeping in fear. That did not instill Prometheus with confidence. He sighed sadly, and sent her to hide in his home, nearby. Soon enough, her pursuer came up the mountainside seeking her, and his face twisted in anger on seeing Prometheus.

“Where is she?” Zeus demanded. “What have you done with my pretty little nymph?”

“She says she’s determined to remain chaste,” Prometheus informed the angry god, “and as she’s quite upset, I’m inclined to aid her in that endeavor.”

“Do you dare to go against me yet again!?”

“Aren’t there enough willing females on this world to submit to your lusts already? Why must you force yourself on ones who don’t wish to become your mistresses?” Prometheus countered. “Have you already forgotten my warning?”

“What warning? You mean that lie you concocted so you could steal my sister’s fire from the hearth and burn Demeter’s forests?”

Prometheus sighed sadly. “I had no idea the mortals would lose control of the fire that way; it happened years later. And it was no lie. You will meet your doom at the hands of your own son, as you doomed your own father. That son will be fathered on a goddess who does not wish to go to your bed. When I came to Mt. Olympos before, you had not yet met her, but now…now you’ve already made unwelcome overtures towards her. So far, she’s managed to rebuff you, but once you manage to succeed…she is destined to bear a son greater than his father. And that is the destined end of your reign. It’s not long now. You may as well face up to it, and prepare your children for their inevitable imprisonment in Tartaros along with you.”

Zeus stared at Prometheus in silence for some long time, his brow furrowed in anger. “Who is this goddess?” he asked, his voice slowly rumbling.

“No,” Prometheus laughed. “I don’t have any reason to tell you that. I’m looking forward to watching your tyranny crumble.”

“You will tell me!” Zeus bellowed.

“I will not, and nothing you do can make me,” Prometheus countered. “I am as immortal as you are, so there’s little point in threatening to kill me. And if you threw me into Tartaros, you’d be re-uniting me with my father and brother, and all their kin, and I doubt you want to see them given access to me,” he pointed out, with a sardonic grin.

“I can think of worse punishments than Tartaros for one such as you,” Zeus assured him, glaring furiously. Then he summoned Iris, and sent her to fetch Ares, and the vicious Kratos and Bia, as well as his chariot, carrying the crippled Hephaistos. Once they had arrived, Zeus gave them a callous smile, and gestured at Prometheus. “Take him to the mountains at the ends of the earth, and chain him up. Make the chains so thick that twenty of him could never break them.”

Hephaistos looked at Prometheus sadly, then nodded glumly. “A-all right…” he conceded, “if I have to…”

“Don’t let him say a word, or he’ll try to trick you,” Zeus added. “He’s got a clever tongue, and the lot of you don’t have a brain between you.”

“What way is that to speak to your own son!?” Ares objected.

“In your case, it’s quite accurate,” Prometheus chuckled, “but quite a cruel misjudgment of poor Hephaistos. Ugliness and inability to stand up for oneself is not the same as lack of intellect.”

Prometheus’ only reward for defending Hephaistos was to be clubbed in the face with the butt of Ares’ spear. But Ares was never one to care to hear his brothers praised, after all. He only liked to hear himself praised.

By the time Prometheus recovered from the blow to his face, he had already been transported almost all the way to the barren mountains where he would be confined. His grim-faced captors seemed to be taking great glee in tormenting him, and the three of them were making wagers about what Zeus had in store for the rebellious Titan. Hephaistos seemed distressed by his own role, but he went about it with a workman’s proper diligence, which even Prometheus had to admire, despite himself. And he had to admit that those chains were certainly more than he would ever be able to break himself.

And to make matters worse, Ares insisted on fastening the chains not only around Prometheus, but right through his arms and legs, to ensure that he had no chance of escaping, or even persuading anyone to free him. He was truly trapped. But he could not know what further torments Zeus might have in store for him.

Not until the torments arrived at dawn’s first light the next day.

He eyes had barely grown accustomed to the light when Prometheus saw the shape approaching him. It was a bird, massive beyond any he had ever seen. An eagle, but of such prodigious size!

The bird landed astride Prometheus, one massive clawed foot to either side of his waist, then lowered its beak to his torso, ripped it open, and began to eat out his liver. The Titan could only scream in agony as the bird fed on his living flesh. Once it had done, it flew away again, and he was left lying there, baking in the hard sunlight, slowly bleeding out a puddle of raw ichor onto the rocks below.

His wound had almost closed up by the time Hermes came sauntering up, in the late afternoon.

“Looks painful,” he commented, looking at the hole. “New liver’s about half grown in. Should be fully restored by the time it comes back tomorrow morning.”

“It’s coming back tomorrow morning,” Prometheus groaned. He wasn’t surprised, but he was a touch disappointed. This was the sort of torment suffered by those in Tartaros. The only difference was that here he had the touch of the sunlight on his face, here he would have the cool breezes of the night, the sight of the moon and the stars, and if he was lucky he might even have some refreshing rain once in a while. This had to be better than to suffer the same thing underground.

“Of course it is,” Hermes laughed. “Wouldn’t be much incentive to make you talk if it only came once, would it?”

“No, it would not,” Prometheus agreed. “Nor is it now,” he added. “I have no desire to save your wicked father from his own lechery. Let him rot.”

“If he goes down, who’ll save you?” Hermes countered.

“Do you honestly believe he’ll let me go if I tell you what he wants to know?” Prometheus laughed. “I’m not so naïve as you are, boy.”

“Well, I can tell you that you sure won’t be going free any other way.”

“Not while Zeus reigns, no,” Prometheus agreed. “But after he falls? His successor might release the other Titans, and they might free me. Even if they don’t, at least I would have seen his fall, and that would be worth the torture.”

For some time, Hermes stood there silently. “I guess you’re just not ready to talk yet,” he sighed. “I’m sure you’ll see reason after you’ve lost a few more livers. Just…look, no one wants to be doing this, okay? Even Father doesn’t want to be doing this to you. But you’ve really scared him with this talk of some new god rising up and destroying us. Just tell us what we need to know, and everyone will be glad to let you go.”

“You know, I almost believe you mean that,” Prometheus chuckled, “but if you do, you’re a fool. Your father hates me. He’s glad of the excuse to torture me. And no, he will not let me go, even if I do tell him what he wants to know. In fact, I’m afraid to tell him now. I’m afraid of what he’ll do to her. She’s innocent, has no idea that her son will destroy Zeus. But if he finds out? What if he throws her in Tartaros to rob himself of the temptation of having his way with her? That would be a cruel recompense for all her kindnesses to the Olympian gods, but I wouldn’t put it past that paranoiac tyrant.”

Hermes laughed. “Father would never do that to a pretty goddess! I can promise you that!” He paused, rubbing his chin. “So, she’s been kind to us, huh?”

“I’m not saying another word,” Prometheus exclaimed, setting his jaw firmly shut.

Hermes tried many more times to make Prometheus talk, but the Titan kept to his word, and remained as silent as the stones around him, and Hermes eventually returned to Mt. Olympos in defeat.

The next morning, the eagle returned, and once again ate out Prometheus’ liver, sending screams of agony ringing through the desolate mountains.

High atop Mt. Olympos, Zeus heard the cries and secretly exulted in them.

Yet he also wished more desperately than ever that he knew the secret Prometheus was hiding. He was terrified to make new conquests of immortal maids now, and yet there were so many that he wanted so desperately…

For the moment, he decided to try and pacify his desires with mortal women, but he didn’t like that he was having to let Prometheus’ stubbornness dictate his behavior. He didn’t like that one bit.

BWAHAHAHAHAHAH! OMG, as I was writing this, I couldn’t help thinking “Zeus’ lust is his Achilles’ heel!” which is hilarious, considering the goddess in question here! Man, I should not find this so funny. Maybe I’m not getting enough sleep…

Oh, but I had to make up the bit about why Prometheus gave Zeus the direct warning again, with the nymph seeking his aid. Sorry. I don’t like having to do that, but…y’know…ugh. There may actually have been something, but I’m writing this at school, and my books are at home, so I couldn’t consult them! (Okay, actually, I could trek back over to the library and look at the library’s copy of Gantz, or I could check my copy before I post this, lol, but…uh, yeah….anyway….)

Kratos and Bia haven’t shown up since the Titanomachy, but they seemed logical, right? One—or was it both of them?—were in Aischylos’ Prometheus Bound, which fills about this portion of the story, but very differently. (And although I read it pretty recently, I read it for very different reasons, ‘cause I thought maybe the Anguished One in Devil Survivor 2 was about to turn out to be Prometheus instead of the usual fella—and then they surprised me by making him someone original—so I wasn’t paying attention to the usual stuff.) My Hephaistos is pretty different from Aischylos’ as well, in part because of his treatment earlier, and in general because my entire treatment of the myth is totally different. Mine is, after all, for light, entertaining purposes, and whatever Aischylos’ purposes were, they were anything but light. (I’m sure entire books have been written trying to figure out exactly what his purposes were, but I haven’t read them, so I don’t know what they say.)

Now the question is, do I call this the “final part” of the “Prometheus Ticks off Zeus” saga or what? ‘Cause obviously the ending is when Heracles slays the eagle (or sometimes it’s a vulture?) and lets Prometheus go. Usually, this is because Prometheus has just told him—or Hermes?—the identity of the goddess, at long last. But to tell that story as part of the “Prometheus Ticks off Zeus” saga seems a little off. That’s more appropriately part of the life of Heracles. Which is, of course, long and complicated, and still hampered by the whole “wait, is he actually Theban or not?” problem that I’ve talked about before. In any case, I’m not about to start on Heracles for next week—way too much to have to deal with there in terms of preparation—so who knows what the myth will be next week. Or if the myth will be next week.

Amusing aside:  even though I couldn’t log in ’cause of the forgotten password, I was still looking at what I’d written before when I was writing this.  Consequently, I was able to identify my own activities on the “Most Active (the past day)” feed on the Dashboard.  That’s actually kind of pathetic.  (Okay, no the pathetic part is that my own activity was the entirety of said activity.)


Prometheus Ticks off Zeus, Part 2

Published August 6, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, technically, this should be called “Zeus tries to get revenge” but…I’m tweaking the story a lot to make it less misogynistic, and because I was hoping to give Prometheus more of a hand in how it turned out, so…sticking with this title.  Anyway, this picks up right from the end of part one.

“That was a pretty clever trick,” Hermes said, looking at the smoke rising from the mortal village.  “Maybe I could actually learn from this guy…”  It wasn’t often that he met someone who was almost as accomplished a thief as he was!

“Don’t pick up any more bad habits, little brother,” Apollo said, glaring at him.  “I don’t want you stealing any more of my possessions.”

“I’ll steal from someone else, then,” Hermes laughed.

“I won’t let him get away with this outrage,” Zeus growled.  “He must be punished!”

“It’s only a tiny flame,” Hestia said, stroking his arm consolingly.  “And fire always grows to make up for the loss.  The winter’s coming on, and the mortals must be cold down on the surface.  I’m sure he only wanted to protect them.”

“I had the fire taken away from them to protect Demeter’s forests from those foolish mortals!” Zeus bellowed, making Hestia back away from her brother in terror.  “I won’t allow that prattling Titan to get away with defying my will!”

“You were eager enough to listen to him when you thought he had a warning for you about how to keep your uncontrollable lust from getting us all locked up in Tartaros,” Hera snarled at him.  “How quickly you change your tune!”

“Maybe if you really want to punish him, you should give him a wife,” Apollo commented, shaking his head.  After seeing what his step-mother was like, Apollo had quickly decided that he was never going to marry.  In fact, he had decided to stop himself from ever reaching full physical maturity, so no one would ever expect him to marry.  If he always looked like a youth, then he’d never look old enough to be a husband.  Plus he’d look prettier, which was always nice.

“That’s not a bad idea,” Zeus agreed, with a cold glare at his own wife.

“I don’t think he was serious,” Athene pointed out, but her father wasn’t listening, having immediately leaped upon and embraced the idea.

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Prometheus Ticks off Zeus, Part 1

Published July 30, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Technically, I wanted to write about something a bit later, but in working out the reasons behind it, the sequence dictated I really had to start the story here.  So here we are.  But fair warning; the early stage of this is sort of, uh, made up.  We don’t have much information, so I’ve sort of assembled an ad hoc explanation of the later facts (some cobbled together from different versions) that basically fits the personalities involved.  (Just don’t go telling anyone that this is how the ancient Greeks believed mankind was first created, ’cause it isn’t.  But I don’t know what is, ’cause they didn’t like to write that stuff down.  Even Hesiod was vague on the subject and he’s our best source.)

After the calamities of the early reign of the Olympians had settled down, the world became peaceful.  Peaceful and dull.  Everyone quickly became bored with it.

Now, some of them had no trouble relieving their boredom.  Zeus had plenty of nymphs to chase, not to mention several sisters, and a half dozen voluptuous and willing Titanesses.  Poseidon found Oceanids to be quite accommodating, and as Zeus fathered younger gods, they, too, found plenty of diversion among the nymphs and dryads.

The Titans–what few weren’t in Tartaros–were less fortunate.  Hyperion, after handing over the reigns of his chariot to his son Helios, went into permanent and boring retirement.  Prometheus and his brother Epimetheus had been reduced to living in a small shack by their father’s disgrace in the battle against the Olympian gods, even though Prometheus had made sure that he and his brother had stayed well and truly out of the fighting.  (This brother, at least.  They had another brother who had been laid low by Zeus’ thunderbolt, because he hadn’t been willing to listen to Prometheus’ warning not to get involved in the war against the new gods.)

To combat his boredom, Prometheus decided that he would create men, a race of lesser beings to wander the face of the world and do things.

Big things.

Little things.

Interesting things.

Boring things.

Any old things at all.

It had to be better than just watching from a distance as Zeus seduced nymphs.

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Words Crush Wednesday – The Homeric Version

Published July 29, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

This week’s Words Crush Wednesday is gonna be another long one.  On account of I want to get the battle in the river to a good stopping point, and there’s a lot left.  (I know, I should just say “hey, just go read the whole Iliad already!” but that’s kind of been my point all along, right?)  Anyway, last week Poseidon and Athene showed up and showed that the reason Achilles has such a swelled ego is that the gods actually do pop down and help him out when he’s in a jam, and Poseidon told him (explaining that they were gods in disguise as mortal men) not to give up hope because they’d never let him die to an ordinary river.

Okay, so from Book XXI of the Iliad, W.H.D. Rouse translation:

Achillês was much encouraged by this advice, and he pushed across the plain.  The whole space was covered with water, all sorts of fine armour and weapons floating upon it, and the bodies of young men cut off in their prime.  He stumbled along wading through these and lifting his knees high to make way against the running current; Athena gave him strength enough to hold his own.

But Scamandrios was angrier than ever against Achillês.  He lifted a great crested wave on high and called loudly to Simoeis:

“I say, Brother!  This man’s too strong–let us both join to stop him, or he’ll drive the Trojans before him and sack the city!  Help here, quick!  Fill up your stream from the springs, bring down all your torrents, raise a flood, roll along trees and stones in confusion–we must stop this wild man who thinks himself as good as any god and sweeps the field!  I vow his strength shall do him no good, nor his handsome body, nor his fine armour–which will soon lie at the bottom, I think, buried in mud!  I’ll slime him over in sand and roll a mountain of shingle on the top!  His friends shall not know how to find his bones in all that slough!  Here shall be his sepulchre–there will be no need to pile a barrow when the Achaians make his funeral!”

Then the River rose in a mighty towering wave, roaring and swirling with a confused agglomeration of foam and blood and bodies, curving over the head of Achillês, and there he would have caught him:  but Hera saw the danger, and called to Hephaistos:

“Up with you, Crookshank, my son!  You were to mark River Xanthos, as we arranged.  Go and help the man, be quick, raise a conflagration, and I will bring West and Southeast with a heavy gale from the sea to drive the flames and burn up bodies and armour together.  You burn the trees along the banks and invade the river.  Don’t let him move you by prayers or by curses!  And don’t stop until you hear me calling and telling you to stop!”

Hephaistos at once raised a devil of a fire.  The conflagration first swept the plain and burnt up all the heaps of bodies which Achillês had left there.  As the wind blows in autumn on an orchard newly watered, and dries in it, and the harvester is glad, so the fire dried the water off the plain and consumed all the bodies.  Then he turned his flames to the river itself, burnt elms and willows and tamarisks, burnt clover and rushes and galingale and everything that grew along the banks.  Eels and fishes dived and darted about in great distress, as Hephaistos directed his fiery blast on the water.  The River was burnt himself, and called out:

“Hephaistos!  No god alive can stand against you, and how could I fight you, all ablaze with fire like that?  Make up the quarrel!  Let Achillês drive the Trojans out of their city and have done with it.  What are the quarrels and succours to me?”

He was well in the fire as he spoke, and his water was bubbling like a copper full of hog’s fat melting over a brisk blaze, with fagots of good dry wood piled all round: the water boiled, and he did not care to run any more while the fiery blast of Hephaistos tormented him.  So he appealed to Hera frankly:

“My dear Hera, why has your son pitched on my stream?  Why trouble me out of so many others?  You can’t blame me more than the others who help the Trojans.  Well, I will promise to stop if you say so, but let him stop too.  I give you my oath I will never help Trojans again, not even when the Achaians fire the city and burn the whole place up in the conflagration!”

At once Hera called out:

“Stop, Hephaistos, my admirable son!  It is not proper to knock about an immortal god like this for the sake of mortal men.”

At the word Hephaistos quenched his furious fires, and the river ran down between his banks as before.

So Hera stayed that quarrel, when Xanthos was pacified, although she was still angry.  But the other gods were bitter against each other on the opposing sides:  they soon fell to it with a great din, until the wide earth rang again, and the high heavens trumpeted.  Zeus heard the noise sitting on Mount Ida; his heart laughed with glee to see god meeting god in battle.

His sister/wife, brother and children are fighting each other, and his heart laughs.  Warm guy.

Seriously, though, the Homeric Hera is a horrible, horrible character.  She’s like the embodiment of all that’s misogynistic about ancient Greek culture.  I need to do some good research into the ancient Greek religious beliefs(my knowledge on the subject is only very basic) so I can do a good, accurate post on the subject, because I do want people to understand that the cultic Hera–the one who was actually worshipped–was entirely different than the one encountered in the myths.  That’s why you get the philosophers talking about how they dislike how Homer and the other poets make the gods act like human beings, because it’s so disrespectful, and because it’s so discordant with their cultic personae.  But that, too, should be its own post, and only after I’ve done more research on the actual religious side of things.  (After I’ve conquered some of my backlog of books I’ve actually already purchased.  Oh…yikes.  That may take a while…)


Tales of Aphrodite

Published July 16, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Trying something slightly different for this Thursday’s myth.  Hopefully it’ll work.  (Can’t be worse than last week’s!)


When he was little more than a boy, just barely into his first beard, Odysseus, the young son of Laertes, went to visit his grandfather, Autolycos, at his home near Mount Parnassus.  During a hunting trip on his visit, Odysseus was badly wounded in the leg by a wild boar.

His grandfather poured him a healing drought out of a small vial, and told him to drink it up.  “May smell bitter, but it’ll work.  I stole that from Asclepios himself.”

Odysseus sighed sadly.  “I’m not sure you should admit that, grandfather,” he said, before drinking the foul-tasting elixir.  “It tastes terrible!” he shouted, reflexively.

“I’ll make it up to you,” Autolycos laughed, slapping his grandson on the shoulder.  “I’ll hold a banquet tonight, with all the finest men in the land.  The ones who aren’t out to get me, anyway.  That’s a much shorter list, but…”

“Will there be girls there?”

“You little scamp!”  Autolycos let out a full guffaw, then shook his head.  “I doubt you’ll be healed enough for that sort of thing, my boy.  But we’ll see.  I’ve got plenty enough of slave girls for you, I’m sure.”

Odysseus didn’t seem to want slave girls, but he didn’t complain, and his grandfather went about the preparations for the night’s banquet.  There weren’t actually very many guests at all; Autolycos had far more enemies than he cared to admit to his young grandson, as a life of banditry tended to produce more enemies than friends.  Most of the guests were announced, or at least introduced to young Odysseus, but one old fellow in a traveler’s cloak and hat simply slipped in through a side door and took up a seat on a low bench against a side wall, idly strumming his tortoise-shell lyre, without saying a word to anyone, or anyone saying a word to him.

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Athene, Hephaistos, and Other Early Myths

Published July 4, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

So I thought I’d discuss some of the problems I’m having trying to sort out the chronology in my myth re-tellings.  (What, you thought I was going to write something about this being the 4th of July?  You don’t know me very well, do you?)

The problem is this:  in some versions, when Zeus swallows the pregnant Metis, and then has the horrible headaches as Metis (or Athene) is forging Athene’s armor within his head, it’s Hephaistos who splits his skull open to let the fully grown Athene out.  (Wow, Zeus has a big head!)  In other versions, Hera has Hephaistos without Zeus’ assistance, because she’s jealous that Zeus produced Athene without female assistance.  Because in some versions he swallowed Metis purely to gain permanent access to her clever wit, not because she was pregnant with his child.  (In fact, there’s a version where Metis was pregnant with Athene by one of the Cyclopes, and Zeus wasn’t actually her father.)

Also, I kind of got carried away at the end of the Titanomachia, and had Zeus and Hera get married right away, instead of having Zeus marry Metis first, even though that’s usually how the story is told.  Now, on the other hand, I’m totally cool with telling the lesser known versions, so I’m cool with having him swallow Metis just to absorb her intelligence–which would help to have him transform from the more teenage-like Zeus of the defeat of Kronos and the Titanomachia–and then having Hera produce Hephaistos unaided in jealousy, but…I don’t know.  Maybe I’m trying to write this too early in the morning.

There also seems to be some disagreement in the sources about Typhon, but not too much, so that shouldn’t be a problem.

Let’s see, what were the other myths I was worried about?  Oh, well, there are also those that have alternate versions where there’s only one myth.  That is to say, something like the birth of Aphrodite.  Because the Hesiodic version has a myth attached, while the Homeric version does not.  Because the Homeric version–daughter of Zeus by Dione–has no story, but being attested in both the Iliad and the Odyssey, it’s either older then or equally as old as the born from seafoam version in Hesiod’s Theogony.  And, frankly, I like the Zeus + Dione = Aphrodite equation better, though perhaps that’s somewhat irrelevant.  Actually, I could perhaps tell a number of slightly salacious tales about Aphrodite–her adultery with Ares and being trapped by Hephaistos, her marriage to Anchises, et cetera–by means of a more unusual narrative structure, like a tale-telling contest among what seems to be merely a group of drunkards, at least one of whom turns out to be someone like Hermes or something.  (Let’s see, Hermes, Odysseus, uh, who else in Greek myth is famous for being a liar?)  The point being that it would be okay that some of them would contradict each other, because at least some of them would have been made up by the contestants.

I guess the main worry, chronologically speaking, was always how to work the major epic strains.  Because the narratives of Heracles and the Theban cycles just don’t cross paths, despite that Heracles is allegedly born and raised in Thebes and keeps going back there.  But if Heracles really was born in Thebes, then there’s no way he or his father, half-brother or nephew wouldn’t become involved in all the stuff with the Sphinx, Oedipus and the warring sons of Oedipus unless they were all dead before all that started, or unless all of that was over before they first arrived.  Neither of those is possible.  Therefore, Heracles cannot actually have been born in Thebes, and Gantz was right in pointing out that Heracles was not originally a Theban hero, and was at some point hijacked by the Thebans and made their own.  (Okay, I may be losing my mind.  I was sure that was in Early Greek Myth somewhere, but I just spent like twenty minutes looking for it, and couldn’t find it.)  Uh, anyway, so I’m thinking of just sort of going back to the birth of Heracles and changing the name of the town where he’s born.  (Maybe Corinth?  It also has a Creon, and not much else going on (until Medea gets there) oh, no, wait, that’s where Oedipus gets found, that’s too…ugh.  Well, I’ll think of something.)  I know that’s horrible, but…seriously!  How are we supposed to believe he and his family don’t get involved in all that mess otherwise?

I still have to figure out some relative chronologies regarding the voyage of the Argo and Heracles’ life–even the order of his Labors isn’t set in stone–but…

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