All posts tagged Python

A to Z: Python

Published April 18, 2018 by Iphis of Scyros

Okay, I know I said I wasn’t going to do any Greek stuff, but…I wasn’t really feeling most of the other “P” choices.  Besides, I have a…well, I’m not sure a “funny story” is quite the right way to put it…a “minor anecdote that I happen to find amusing because I’m anal like that” is probably the more accurate way to describe it.  (Really, I ought to do Pele for this.  But…I just wasn’t feeling it.)

Image copyright Atlus, but provided by the MegaTen Wiki. Click for link.

Yup, that dino skull with a snake-like cloud of smoke behind it is how they usually depict Python in these games.  Though I’ll have another image for you in a minute.  But first, here’s the game text describing Python in Shin Megami Tensei IV/IV Apocalypse:

A gigantic, black snake god born from the Greek goddess Gaea with no father.

He has unparalleled prophetic abilities and has protected oracular shrines since days of old.  Python is said to have been the guardian of Delphi, site of Delphic oracles.  He is sometimes called “the king of deceitful spirits” and gave prophecies that would only be in his favor, but he never gave prophecies that went against Gaea’s will.

The same text was also used in the two Devil Survivor games, except without the word “deceitful.”  Which is a pretty freakin’ big change, I must say!  Those of you with some knowledge of who Python is in Greek myths may be agog at the massive omissions there.  But before I address those, let me show you the other version of Python I promised.  This is what you see in Persona 2:  Eternal Punishment when you face Python as an enemy.  (This, of course, being the way I first saw him in a MegaTen game.)

A bit more like it, except for the, y’know, wings and legs.  (Though as I posted once already, it’s hard for us to know what exactly the ancient Greeks had in mind when they used words that get translated to English words like “serpent” and “dragon,” so maybe this isn’t as far off as it might be.)  Python’s inclusion in Eternal Punishment has stuck with me all these years for a very specific reason:  Eternal Punishment was the first game (translated into English) to include a compendium giving the player access to little summaries of what the original myths/folktales/etc. were.  I can’t quote you specifically what it said, because goodness only knows where the heck my memory card is, but I can paraphrase it for you.  It said that Python was a monstrous snake sent by Hera to kill Ret.

It took me way too long to realize that “Ret” was a translation error made by people who didn’t know Greek mythology, and that it was supposed to say “Leto.”

But let’s set the games aside now and talk about the real Python.  (Not the one with the Flying Circus…) Read the rest of this entry →



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 — ”

Read the rest of this entry →

The Birth of the Divine Twins

Published July 9, 2015 by Iphis of Scyros

I really didn’t want to do this one yet, but…I couldn’t think of any others to do, since all the other early myths seem fraught with even more complications.  This project just getting more and more complicated…


Leto was no fool; she had known that it would not be easy to accept Zeus’ love.  Hera was a jealous goddess, and she would make things difficult for the pregnant Titaness and the new god when he was born.  That was why Leto had surreptitiously left Olympos before it became too noticeable that she was going to have a baby, and why she was going to make a new home for her son until he was grown.  Let him not go to his father’s divine home until he was strong enough to defend himself from his step-mother’s jealousies!

But as she traveled through the land, she found no place that wanted to become the home of her new son, and the longer she traveled the more pregnant she became, until she was terribly worried that she shouldn’t become quite that swollen with child.

Unbeknownst to Leto, as she passed by the earthen shrine Delphi, its guardian and prophet Python awoke.  Python, an enormous serpent, had unfailing visions of the future, and it had seen a vision of Leto’s still-unborn son killing it with an unknown weapon.  Few prophets, even divine ones, were willing to sit by idly and just accept visions of their own deaths, so Python set out to hunt down and kill Leto before she could give birth.

Seeing the danger his mistress and unborn children–for by now Leto had realized she was carrying not a son but a son and a daughter–were in, Zeus sent Boreas to whisk Leto away from Python’s grasp, to the island of Ortygia.  Poseidon lowered the island and hid it beneath the waves so that Python couldn’t find Leto and had to give up his hunt.

Once Leto had safely given birth to her twins, Artemis and Apollo, Poseidon once again raised the island above the surface of the ocean, and it was renamed Delos, and it became Apollo’s home, with a fine temple built to the twin gods, but especially to Apollo.

The precocious young gods soon invented the bow and arrow as a plaything, and the prophetic Python broke out in a cold sweat in distant Delphi at the first step of the realization of his vision’s truth.


Meh. That sucked.

I have no idea where I went wrong there, but I definitely did.

Maybe I tried to incorporate too many unusual variations?  Apart from the bit at the end about inventing the bow and arrow, it’s all genuine, just from an assortment of different sources of different ages.   The most familiar version (Leto being forbidden to give birth in any land) doesn’t actually seem to be genuine at all, according to Gantz.  I’m not sure where it came from, seems to be a modern version.   (That’s weird.  Same thing happened when I was contemplating doing Prometheus creating man:  I looked it up, and the version I thought I’d seen in all the storybooks about him making mankind out of clay wasn’t in there at all, meaning it’s not actually an ancient Greek creation myth at all.)

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