Hermes

All posts tagged Hermes

Loki at Christmas Time

Published December 24, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Among the gods who were no longer regularly worshiped, very little was more annoying than the sight of all the mortals getting excited for a religious festival.  Which one was most frustrating had changed with the years, of course.  Just at the present, Christmas was the most aggravating of all, even though it was — in large part — no longer religious in nature, being celebrated by any number of mortals who had little or no affection for Christianity.

While the period surrounding Christmas was frustrating for them all, it was worst to the Greek gods, because all their Roman counterparts inevitably came by, rubbing their noses in the continued popularity of Saturnalia.  After a few decades of that, Kronos started getting involved in the self-satisfied gloating, making it all the worse.  Most of the Greek gods tried to deal with it in an appropriately Stoic fashion — what Nietzsche would have called an Apollonian fashion, despite that Apollo was actually one of the ones least capable of Stoic reserve — but Hermes had never gone in for any of that self-denial nonsense.  If he didn’t like something, he didn’t deal with it.

So when the Roman gods came by to gloat, he usually went elsewhere.  He could count on his Roman counterpart to get distracted by the first pretty girl he saw — not that Hermes was any different — so he didn’t have to worry about being chased down to be gloated at elsewhere.

Usually, he went to hang out with other gods like himself.  Coyote was a favorite, even though he was still believed in, if not worshiped as such.  Still, in the past few centuries he was often standoffish, what with the European people coming in and oppressing his own people, and in the last few decades, he had started to become downright testy, because the white people were so rapidly destroying the natural world.  It was hard to blame him for his anger, but it certainly made him less pleasant company.  So Hermes had tried spending a few holiday seasons with Anansi, but such terrible things were happening in his part of the world that it wasn’t much fun to be around him, either.

This year, Hermes had hit on a good plan.  He would go to the frozen north and visit Loki.  The lands formerly inhabited by the vicious Vikings were now one of the most pleasant and peaceful regions of the world, and the other Norse gods still hadn’t forgiven Loki, so there wouldn’t be anyone pestering them.  Sure, there wouldn’t be any pretty girls — apart from Loki’s lovely wife, of course — but Hermes could go for a month or so without girls.

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Aphrodite and Anchises

Published June 2, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

(The lead-in to this myth can be found here.)


It didn’t take Hermes long to find the right mortal for their purposes.  The descendants of Dardanos were well-known for their beauty, and the difference in fortune between the ruling and non-ruling branches of the family were considerable.  But even the least powerful branch of the family was still of noble birth, and their descent from Zeus himself made them paragons among mortals.  When he reported his selection back to the others, he found his father to be particularly pleased by the choice, though of course he wouldn’t explain why.

Consequently, the plan was soon put into action.  Hermes approached Aphrodite, who gave him a narrow-eyed look of disgust.

“Go away,” she told him.  “I’m not letting you touch me again.”

Hermes repressed a grimace.  Why was she so opposed to him, anyway?  The mortal girls all found him irresistible — well, almost all of them did, anyway.  “I’m here on business,” he assured her.  “Father wants you to see something down in the mortal realm.”

“Really?”  Aphrodite stood up, adjusting the gown that clung to her curvaceous frame, revealing everything it covered.  “Why?”

“He didn’t say,” Hermes replied, with a grin.  “You can ask him if you want?” he added, knowing very well what her response would be.

She sighed.  “Better to get it over with.  Just show me whatever it is already.”

Hermes nodded, and began leading her down below to the mortal realm, to Dardania, not far from mighty Troy.  They came to a stop near the home of Anchises, who was just returning to his domicile, having been in negotiations with a potential husband for his daughter, who had just entered the marriageable age.  Anchises, a cousin of King Priam in Troy, was a handsome man of middle years, still dark-haired, but despite his rank he also had the dark skin of someone who spent far too much time out in the hot Anatolian sun, as he often had to tend to his herds himself, lacking the funds to hire someone trustworthy enough to do it for him, and lacking a son who could take on the responsibilities.

“What does Father want me to see here?” Aphrodite asked, looking around in confusion.  There was nothing around that called for the attention of the goddess of love, after all.

When Aphrodite’s gaze was fixed on Anchises, Zeus put their plan into action.  He had been watching his children from Mt. Olympos, and now he threw the arrows he had taken from Eros, just in the manner he normally threw thunderbolts.  They flew truly, and struck Aphrodite in the back, sending her reeling forwards, both from the impact and from the sudden and overflowing love she now felt for Anchises.  (If you’d like to consider this the origin of the term ‘thunderstruck,’ I shan’t stop you.)

Hermes watched, laughing quietly to himself, as Aphrodite preened herself carefully, then approached the home of Anchises.

The mortal man was amazed when he opened his door and found himself confronted by the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.  She introduced herself as a princess from a far-off land, brought to his door by Hermes to be his wife.

It didn’t make any sense to Anchises, but he wasn’t about to complain about it, either!  He had been a widower for a number of years now, and was quite eager to take this beautiful young woman as a new wife.  In fact, he couldn’t quite bring himself to wait for a formal wedding feast, and decided that a few promises in the bedchamber would suffice.  (There was little more involved to a marriage, in truth, than those promises.  The feast was more to let others know about it.  And Anchises couldn’t really afford to give a feast anyway.)

By the next morning, some of the effects of the arrows had already worn off of Aphrodite — they were her own power, after all — but she still couldn’t fight off the feeling of affectionate desire for Anchises.  (She had already been attracted to him even before the arrows hit her, really.)  She continued on living there as his wife for many months, long enough to become aware that she was pregnant, and to see that her step-daughter’s new marriage was not a happy one.

It bothered her to see the girl so unhappy, because Aphrodite knew it was her own fault:  because she was thus being remiss in her duties, there was no one to make mortals fall in love.  In the usual course of events, she would have sent her son Eros to ensure that every maiden fell in love with her husband on their wedding night, to prevent tragedies, and to make the maidens happy with their new, less fortunate lot in life.  But Eros was a lazy little brat, and wouldn’t work unless his mother made him, so all the maidens who had gotten married since Aphrodite had begun her dalliance with Anchises hadn’t been made to fall in love with their husbands.

“How much do you want Hippodameia to be happy?” Aphrodite asked Anchises one day.

“Of course I want my daughter to be happy,” he replied.  “What sort of question is that?”

“I didn’t ask if you wanted her to be happy,” she corrected her mortal husband.  “I asked how much you wanted her to be happy.  Would you be willing to risk — or even lose — your own happiness for hers?”

“What are you saying?” Anchises asked.  He had some inkling of what she was asking, but he couldn’t imagine how his pregnant bride could be capable of such things.

“I can make Hippodameia fall in love with Alcathoos,” Aphrodite told him, “but if I do so…you and I will no longer be able to live together as husband and wife.”  She could never allow Eros to see her living as a wife to a mortal man!

Anchises sighed, wondering if delusions could be a side-effect of pregnancy.  “How could you possibly do that, my dear?”

For a few moments, Aphrodite hesitated.  She knew he would never even believe her unless she told him the truth, but as soon as she did tell him…she risked the most utter humiliation.  But Anchises’ face was beginning to take on that terrible smile:  the smile of a man about to patronize a woman not because she’s wrong, but because he thinks she can’t be right.  That sort of smile had never bothered her before, but before it had not been aimed at her.  (Mortal women being patronized didn’t bother her in the slightest.  Unlike two of her sisters…)

So Aphrodite shed her disguise, and appeared before Anchises in all her divine splendor.  “I am not the mortal girl you took me for,” she told him, “but the goddess Aphrodite.”  The disbelief in Anchises’ eyes soon gave way to desire…and to pride.  “If you ever tell anyone my true identity, my father will make you suffer for it!” she promised him.  Her dignity was worth far more than her love for any mortal man!

“Of course I’ll never tell anyone,” Anchises promised her.  “I just…this is a little overwhelming…”

“I’m sure it is.  But now you see the dilemma before you?  I cannot use my power to make your daughter fall in love without abandoning you as a wife,” she told him.  “Which will it be?  Will you continue to make yourself happy in my bed, or will you make your daughter happy?”

“I…I…there must be another way!” Anchises insisted.  “Why can’t you make her fall in love without leaving me?”

“It simply doesn’t work that way,” Aphrodite sighed.  “Now which will it be?”

Anchises had to look away from his divine bride.  He didn’t want his daughter to be unhappy, but he couldn’t stand the idea of losing the wife he had fallen so completely in love with.  “Let me talk to Hippodameia,” he said.  “Maybe I can convince her to find happiness without needing your intervention.”

Aphrodite nodded, resuming her mortal disguise.  “Try your hardest,” she told him.  “You do have some time, in any case.  I can’t return to Olympos while I’m carrying a mortal child.”  Her father and brothers certainly had it easy!  They were only committed for a single night to make a child, yet she had to carry hers around for nine months, risking humiliation the entire time!

Anchises had many long talks with Hippodameia and Alcathoos, trying to encourage them to find love with each other.  By the time Aphrodite gave birth, he thought he had succeeded, and as he first held his infant son in his arms, Anchises thought he would have this perfect life forever.

But by the time of the naming ceremony, ten days later, Anchises’ happiness came crashing down about his ears.  The ceremony had just finished when Hippodameia arrived, looking distraught.

“You don’t have to be so upset,” her father told her.  “I’m not upset that you missed the ceremony.  And I’m sure young Aineias here doesn’t know the difference,” he added, gesturing to the sleeping infant with a laugh.

But Hippodameia’s unhappy state had nothing to do with the naming ceremony.  She burst into tears and wailed that her husband was the most awful man in the world, and that she would be the most wretched creature to live if she was forced to remain with him.  He had told her she was no good, she reported, and threatened to strike her if she didn’t behave herself, and on and on her list of complaints went.

In the end, Anchises, holding his crying daughter in his arms, turned to his divine bride, tears coming to his own eyes as he did so.  “There must be something you can do…” he said to her.

“There is,” Aphrodite assured him, “but you know the cost.”

Anchises looked down at his daughter, and sighed sadly.  “Yes, I know the cost,” he replied, “and if that is how it must be, then…I will pay it.”

Aphrodite smiled, and leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek.  Then she picked up her son, and walked to the door.  “I will return Aineias to you in a few years’ time,” she told him, then she left the house they had shared, never to return.

Shedding her mortal disguise, Aphrodite called to her son Eros, and told him that he had been slacking terribly in his duties, giving him such a stern lecture as he had never heard before — a tongue-lashing worthy of Hera, in fact.  Setting Eros off to do his duty — starting with making Hippodameia and Alcathoos fall so madly in love with each other that they would never again be unhappy — Aphrodite returned to Mt. Olympos with her infant son.

No matter how she raised him on ambrosia, however, Aphrodite soon realized that Aineias was hopelessly mortal.  He would age and die just like his father.  It was a bitter realization, but she knew she wasn’t alone in such unpleasantness:  Eos and Thetis were both the mothers of mortal children, too, and would suffer the same tragic fate as Aphrodite, watching their sons wither and die.

Within a few years, Aphrodite returned Aineias to Anchises, letting him be raised by his sister Hippodameia, as well as by nymphs that Aphrodite sent by periodically to see to it that the boy had the best life possible.  And she often sat on the slopes of Mt. Ida, watching her son grow.  (Whenever she did so, of course, her other son again slacked off on his duties.  For that reason, many men found that their wives never did fall in love with them.  Some of those men, like Agamemnon, came to regret the idle nature of Eros…)

Zeus, too, was keeping an eye on things in the region of Troy.  For despite that it had been his idea to punish Aphrodite in this manner, he didn’t want people to know that Aphrodite had taken a mortal husband.  True, young Aineias knew that his mother was the goddess Aphrodite, but it was only right that the boy know his own begetting.  It was the rest of the people around holy Ilios who needed to be kept ignorant.

And for many years they remained ignorant.  But then one year Anchises was at a feast in Troy, listening to everyone else boast about the fine lineages of their wives, of how well they weaved, of how well they ran the household, and — of course — how beautiful they were and how talented in the bed chamber.

The boasts of his fellows ate at Anchises, and he turned to wine to suppress his own desires to brag about the mother of his son.  But the more inebriated he became, the harder it was to silence his tongue.

So when one of the other men chuckled at the mysterious and absent mother of Aineias, Anchises could keep silent no longer, and he told them the whole tale of how he had been approached by Aphrodite herself, and how he had lived those months with a goddess in his bed.

He had hardly finished speaking when a bolt of lightning flew down from the sky and struck him down.

Zeus had intended to kill him with that thunderbolt, but Aphrodite had tugged at his arm and disrupted his aim:  instead of being killed, Anchises was lamed, never again able to stand unaided.

King Priam’s young son Helenos — gifted with divine sight — informed them that this thunderbolt was not a punishment for a lie, but a punishment for telling a forbidden truth.

From that day on, Anchises was pitied for his lameness, but envied for having bedded a goddess, and everyone in the entire Troad soon knew that young Aineias was the son of Aphrodite.  Gossip began to spread that surely he would be married to one of Priam’s daughters — as indeed he eventually was — and that he would be preferred above all of Priam’s many sons to be the next king.


The question is, when (if?) I get to the Trojan War, am I going to go with the early Greek version, in which Aineias and his sons rule over a rebuilt Troy, the later Greek/early Roman version in which Aineias/Aeneas goes to Italy with Trojan refugees and his sons by a local wife are the ancestors of the Romans, or the Julian/Vergilian version in which Aeneas goes to Italy and his purely Trojan son becomes the ancestor of the Julian emperors?

The latter is the best known (thanks to the Aeneid) so I’m inclined to go with one of the others.  Probably the first one, since it’s the one in the Iliad.  (Well, okay, technically it’s just implied, and only in one line, but still!)

The Betrayal of Aphrodite

Published May 26, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

Whoa…how long has it been since I did one of these myths?  Seems like forever.  Well, anyway, I picked this one because it seemed relatively stand-alone.  I’m still not mentally up to the challenge of tackling the chronology of the life of Heracles, and I don’t want to do the voyage of the Argo until I finish reading the Argonautica.  And I want to leave the Trojan War for last.  Because.  (And yet…)


It happened one day — as it often did — that Zeus and Hera were quarreling about Zeus’ constant acts of adultery.  However, this time Zeus started the fight, angry at Hera for her constant torment of Alcmene and especially her son.

“Why would you torment a woman who shared her bed with me unwittingly instead of punishing me for my acts?!” Zeus demanded.  “And how could the son born from that bed ever be responsible for his own begetting?  Would you want to be punished for the acts of our father?!”

“You seem to forget that I also have rule over marriage,” Hera pointed out snidely.  “That woman doubly disgraced the noble institution by cheating on her husband with a married god, and as to the son!  He has no respect for marriage, bedding other men’s wives far more eagerly than his own!”

“But Alcmene thought I was her husband,” Zeus pointed out coldly, “and her son had never even imagined betraying the bonds of marriage when you tried to kill him in the cradle!”

Hera smiled coolly.  “But I knew he was going to.  Like father, like son.  And as to the woman’s supposed ignorance of your identity…I don’t believe it.  No woman could mistake another for her husband, no matter how alike they looked.  Even if she hadn’t ever been intimate with him before.  But why do you feel no shame for your actions?  You try to make me out to be the villain, even though you have no respect for anything but your own pleasure!”

“It isn’t entirely his fault,” Apollo suddenly interrupted.  “Sometimes it just happens; the insatiable, irresistible urge — the need — to bed some particular mortal woman.”

“What nonsense!” Hera insisted.

“It’s true,” Hermes agreed, deciding that if his brother had already intervened, then it was probably safe for him to do so as well.  Their step-mother wasn’t likely to take on three gods all at once, surely!  “I think Aphrodite gets a thrill out of forcing us to feel desire like that for mortal women.”

Apollo laughed bitterly.  “In your case, I think it’s her way of getting you to leave her alone.”

“Why would she want to reject me?” Hermes countered.  “I’m every bit as handsome as you are!”

“You wish you were as handsome as I am,” Apollo spat back at him.  “Besides, even if that were true, I might point out that she’s never deigned to grace my bed, either.”

Zeus cleared his throat, feeling a little uncomfortable at hearing two of his sons arguing about their desire to bed one of their sisters.  (Given that he had married one of his own sisters, and fathered a daughter on one of the other two, this was more than a little hypocritical of him.)  “This is quite the serious accusation you’re making,” he said, turning to Hermes.  “Aphrodite was given those powers with the express understanding that she was only to use them on mortals.  Can you prove that she has indeed done otherwise?”

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M is for Min

Published April 15, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

M

Min was an ancient Egyptian god, and his primary function was one of fertility.  And that brings me to the following point:

warning

The following post contains the discussion and depiction of ancient art featuring naked men, some of them more than usually endowed.  If that might upset you, then please do not read the rest of the post.  Thank you.

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Io

Published December 17, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

Wow, been a while since I’ve done a myth re-telling, hasn’t it?  I picked this one because of something I came across for my final paper in my Roman history class.  (I’ll explain along with my other discussions of the final paper tomorrow.)


In Argos, there was a river named Inachos.  The god of that river — like many other river gods, in truth — had many mortal children, and they, in their turn, had many more children, so that the people of Argos were often looked at as being all sprung from the banks of the Inachos.

One of the Argives who truly carried the blood of Inachos in her veins was Io, a beautiful young maiden who served as priestess in Hera’s temple.  Argos was a special place to the queen of the gods, and her Argive temple was her favorite place in all the mortal realm, so she visited it frequently.  And sometimes when she came back to Olympos, she would tell the other gods about the mortals she had seen in her temple.

And maybe — just maybe — she should have been a little more careful in telling those tales.

Because once — just once — when she was telling her sister Demeter how very lovely the priestess Io was, their brother Zeus overheard.

And of course he wanted to see this beautiful priestess for himself.  (He had always been a fan of beauty, after all!)

Zeus disguised himself as an old man, and went down to the mortal plane.  Looking harmless enough, he entered Hera’s temple, and was so immediately blown away by Io’s purity and beauty that it was all he could do not to start seducing her then and there, his disguise still in place.  Fortunately — or unfortunately, depending on your point of view — he was able to keep himself under control just a little bit as he approached Io.

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Medusa

Published October 22, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

LOL, this is the second post I’ve put up today called “Medusa“!

We’re picking up right where we left off last week.


When Perseus arrived home, he was surprised to see a stranger waiting for him.  The man wore a traveler’s cloak, and a wide-brimmed traveler’s hat.  So far as Perseus could tell, the man looked to be fairly young, but it was hard to make out any details in the shadow of that huge hat.

“Did you want something here, stranger?” Perseus asked, as he dismounted his horse.  “Our family is poor, but you’re welcome to share what little we have.”

The traveler shook his head.  “My father sent me here to help you,” he replied.

“Your father?”

“Maybe I should say our father,” the man chuckled.  “He wanted me to give you some advice.  To help with that,” he added, pointing at Perseus’ beautiful horse.

“You know where I can find a Gorgon?” Perseus asked.  “Where?”

“No, I don’t know where you can find one, but I know where you can find someone who does,” the stranger told him.  “You’ll have to ask the Graiai…though I don’t know how an ordinary mortal like you can reach them in time to save your mother from being forcibly married off.”

Perseus felt more than a little annoyed by that statement, but he bit his tongue.  If this man was telling the truth, and if Perseus’ mother was telling the truth, then this man was either a god or a demi-god, and based on his appearance, surely if he was a god, then he had to be Hermes.  But if Zeus was looking after his former lover’s safety by sending Hermes to help Perseus, then why couldn’t Zeus just interfere directly to protect Danae from Polydectes?!  However, it would be rude to ask such things of a god, so Perseus held back.  “Where are these Graiai, then?” Perseus asked.  “And just what is a Gorgon, anyway?”

“To start with the easy question, the Gorgons are three daughters of Phorcys and Ceto.  They’re monstrous females, with snakes for hair, massive fangs and lolling tongues, and wings upon their backs; any man who looks on them will die.”  The man shook his head.  “You have to be careful to find Medusa, not Stheno or Euryale, though they’re all ageless, only Medusa can be killed; any attack on Stheno or Euryale will fail, and you’ll simply die.”

“How am I supposed to cut off the head of something I can’t look at?” Perseus asked.  “Or do you mean that they’ll kill any man they see?”

The traveler chuckled.  “They will most certainly kill any man they see,” he replied, “which is why Father asked me to give you this.”  So saying, he held out a black cap of finely woven cloth.

It felt unearthly cold when Perseus accepted it, far more chill than even a gust of winter air.  “What is it?” Perseus asked.  No matter how cold, no matter how well-made, it still just looked like a simple cap, like any shepherd might wear.

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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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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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