Zeus

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MLM No “H” Repost – “Adulterous Zeus”

Published January 16, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

“Adulterous Zeus”

“My wife doesn’t appreciate me,”
Zeus complained.
“You poor baby!”
Maia replied, smirking.

“My wife is terribly cruel to me,”
Zeus claimed.
“Awful, most awful!”
Danae exclaimed,
And sneezed.
(A gold allergy.  Surprising, no?)

“My wife doesn’t love me,”
Zeus insisted.
“A fool of a wife indeed not to love you!”
Semele answered.

“My wife will never be good to me,”
Zeus wept on Leda’s lap.
“But I’m good to you,”
Laconian lady Leda cooed back.

“Mom wants a divorce,”
Ares informed Zeus,
Once modern day dawned.

Zeus didn’t see it coming.

Everyone else did.


MLM icon init bonus points MLM H


Yup.  Still my favorite Missing Letter Monday post.  (Probably always will be.)

Originally posted 7/20/2015.

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MLM No “G” Repost – “Mother Earth”

Published January 10, 2017 by Iphis of Scyros

“Mother Earth”

Born at the start of it all,
Mother to so many,
With so many.

Her first husbands,
Ouranos and Pontos.
Also her sons.
(Eeew.)
They had no fathers.

Nereus,
Thaumas,
Phorkys,
Eurybia,
Even monstrous Ceto;
Pontos fathered these few.

Titans,
Cyclopes,
Hundred-handers,
Ouranos fathered so many.

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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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Missing Letter Mondays – No “V”

Published April 25, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

The Author’s Oracle Tag

I saw this at Sara Letourneau’s blog, and thought it looked fun.  Also like something where I could omit this week’s letter with less effort than another chapter of “Peril-Led Princess“.  (It is coming back!  I promise!)  Despite that they’re my own rules, I’m not sure how the Missing Letter Monday rules feel about using the forbidden letter inside a quote…so rather than change the questions or use the letter, I’m just gonna put a * in the place of the letter-of-the-week where it occurs in the questions.

So the point of this blogging tag is that there are questions loosely inspired by the major arcana of the Tarot, which an author is to answer, focusing on their current work in progress.  Or, in my case, a major work that I keep putting off writing draft two of.  *shame*  But it’s been on my mind lately, so maybe this’ll get me working on that edit/re-write…once the semester ends, anyway.

Aaaanyway, let’s get on with it, ’cause I still need to do some reading this morning before I go to work.  (All text in bold in the following section is quoted.)


The Author’s Oracle Questions

I’ll be answering these questions based on my semi-YA series which currently has no series title.  Mostly I’ll be thinking about the first book (yes, I wrote the whole series in rough drafts before editing the first one) which needs a new title, as the one I had when I was working on it sucked quite atrociously.  I narrowed down a couple of good candidates, but they both imply things that aren’t quite true, so I’m not so sure about them.  Anyway, the first book takes place about 18 years after the end of the Trojan War, and my three leads are Atalanta, the (posthumously born) daughter of Achilles, Ariadne, the (illegitimate) daughter of Odysseus, and Eurysakes, the son of Aias and the only one who’s a genuine mythological character…though my Eurysakes and the real one differ wildly.  Atalanta and Ariadne’s mothers were sisters, and they were…ooh, I can’t use that word!  They were, um, household workers of a non-free sort in a particular city in Lesbos, and when Achilles and Odysseus had to go to Lesbos for complicated (but mythologically accurate) reasons, well, stuff happened, and nine months later…my heroines were born.  Anyway, part of my point here — apart from the fact that the heroines must escape from Lesbos at the start of book one — is that both her companions are Atalanta’s cousins, ’cause I’m going on the more well-known, later form of the myth, in which Peleus and Telamon were brothers.  (Originally, Achilles and Aias were not related, y’see…)

0. The Fool: Which of your characters is the most intuiti*e?  The worst decision-maker?

Ariadne would be the most…uh…wow, most of these words use that letter.  She’s the one capable of the best perception of a situation, usually.  But she’s not as good at reading people as she thinks, so sometimes Eurysakes can make the better call.  Atalanta is by far the worst decision-maker; she tends not to think much.  It’s not that she’s not smart; she just got into the habit of letting Ariadne think for her.

II . The High Priestess: Do any of your characters ha*e *ery strong beliefs?

Yes, definitely.  Atalanta has a lot of them:  she’s deeply religious (which is quite different in ancient Greece than in modern times, of course), she has a lot of beliefs about her father (see below), and she has a lot of super-strong beliefs about what’s right and what’s wrong, and sometimes that gets her into trouble (usually the combat sort of trouble).  Ariadne’s strongest beliefs tend to focus on her father (see below), but she’s also got strong religious ties where Athene is concerned (the other gods are more of an afterthought for her).  For Eurysakes, the most normal of the three, again most of his strong beliefs focus on his father, but especially on how his father was wronged by the other Achaian kings (and especially Odysseus), and how it’s his duty to bring his father the respect and honor he merits.  Korythos, the new King of Troy in Book 1, also has strong beliefs, but most of them would be spoilers.  (Though the chances of anyone other than me seeing this book are pretty darned slim…)  The whole-series baddies also possess strong beliefs, but those would really be spoilers.

III. The Empress: Who is your biggest supporter?  Gi*e them a little lo*e here.

Er…my brother?  I guess?  I mean, he listens to me ramble about my characters and sometimes makes suggestions.  On some of my other books, he’s been willing to read them, but he didn’t get far in this one before being repelled…which is not a good sign…

I*. The Emperor: Do you outline or plan?  (You know… plotter or pantser?)

Like most people, a little of both.  I come up with an outline, but I rarely follow it too far before it needs to change ’cause I end up going in a different direction.  But a sparse outline helps me keep my characters at least a little reined in, and helps me to focus on where I’m going as I let the book follow its own flow.

*. The Hierophant:  What do you feel is your most *aluable piece of writing ad*ice?

Mmm…most of it I come across doesn’t quite seem to fit me.  If “keep writing but keep it to yourself” was out there as a bit of writing wisdom, that’d probably be the best fit for me.

*I. The Lo*ers: Which of your characters follow their heart? Is it for the right reasons?

Well, Atalanta does, because it’s all she knows how to do; I don’t know if that’s “the right reason” or not.  Ariadne would claim she’s following her heart, I’m sure, but she’s really only doing so when she’s doing something for Atalanta’s sake.  Or for Athene’s sake.

*II. The Chariot: Tell us about the first “darling” you e*er “killed.”

In this series, she’s…well, just in case, I can’t say who she is or how she relates to the others, but she takes a while to show up, and longer to establish herself as a character, rather than a bit part.  She was always antagonistic to Atalanta, because reasons, but…after a while I came to the realization that the bad guys would be out of character if they didn’t recruit her.  And they had the perfect hook to make her want to help them, so there was no way she would choose the side of the gods instead of the side of the baddies who want to destroy them.  It was heart-breaking for me, because she’s the offspring of two mythological figures, and I really wanted things to work out well for her, especially since her mother really got a raw deal in the original myth and in my continuation of it.  But once she turned on me — I mean on my heroes — I mean on the gods, I had no choice, and she had to be taken down.  Of course, she’s technically immortal, so she wasn’t actually killed…but she was thrown into Tartaros, so she may as well be dead.

*III. Strength: What do you feel your greatest creati*e strength is?

Coming up with story ideas; I think of lots of ideas that feel like they’re really great.  It’s just what I do with them afterwards that’s no good.

IX. The Hermit: Can you write in coffee shops or other busy places, or do you need quiet?

I used to be able to watch a film on the tube and write at the same time, but I can no longer do that, I’m sorry to say.  Writing in public places is still fine, so long as no one’s around me is talking in such a way that I can’t help but listen in.  (You know the kind of thing I’m talking about, right?)

X. The Wheel of Fortune: Do you ha*e a set routine or schedule?

Nah…but this summer I’m planning on making one.  I seem to spend extremely little time (if any at all) writing lately, so I plan on making a schedule for that and a few other things that need doing.  I’ll be posting about it sometime in early May, once I hammer out the details.

XI. Justice: What’s the biggest consequence that your main character will ha*e to face? (If it spoils the plot, feel free to be *ague.)

Well, she’s always risking life and limb in combat against an assortment of enemies, some human and most inhuman.  There’s one point in the series where the baddies try to coax her into joining their side, at which point she’s risking the consequence of a lightning bolt to the face, ’cause Zeus is watching her quite closely.  Other than that…well, there are a few minor run-ins with foreign kings that are of a less than pleasant type, but…mostly the only consequences would be if she fails in her goals of stopping the bad guys.

Wow, my books sound really shallow all of a sudden.

XII. The Hanged Man: What sacrifices do you make for writing time?  Or, what must your main character be willing to choose between?

Hmm…what does Atalanta need to choose between?  I can’t really think of anything, which is alarming.  But the thing is, I was kind of following the mold of some of the more grand myths, like Perseus’ quest to protect his mother from the lecher who wants to marry her, or Jason’s quest to get the Golden Fleece (minus the part where he starts being a horrible cad and all the wretchedness that follows) and there’s not a lot of…it’s just…the mode of the story is pretty simple:  go, do, fight, triumph.  I tried to add a little more to it than that, but…yeah, still ends up sounding really shallow, no matter how I try to shine it up.

XIII. Death: What do you do after you’*e finished a project?

After I finished the first book in this series, I went right on to the next one.  I wasn’t ready to stop writing yet.  Besides, I knew my pantsing would continue to affect where the story was going, and that later books would probably contradict earlier ones, but that the later tales would be better…and I was right about that:  something I had to say about the causes of the Trojan War in Book Six contradicted something from…Book Two, I think it was.  Either way, Book Six’s new wrinkle was much better, and might actually be truly original, so…yeah, I think I made the right call there.

XI*. Temperance: Please share your best-tested & pro*en tip for balancing writing and “the rest.”

I can’t balance anything; my life is chaos.

X*. The De*il: E*eryone has a nasty habit they can’t shake. What’s your main character’s?

For Atalanta, that’d be running off half-cocked.  She gets excited easily, and can’t stop herself from acting.  But she also has self-doubt that interferes at the worst times.  For Ariadne, it’s thinking too much and paralyzing herself by coming up with too many contradictory plans and/or possible pitfalls.  Eurysakes…honestly, I think it’s his way of talking.  He talks extremely slowly, just like his father did, which annoys those around him, and makes Ariadne cut him off a lot, because she’s pretty impatient about stuff like that.  (Though Atalanta is more or less the lead, it’s a team book, so I think it’s okay to list all three here.)

X*I. The Tower: Ha*e you e*er had to scrap an entire project and start o*er? How did it feel? Were you frustrated, sad, relie*ed, etc.?

Yeah.  This past NaNo’s project, “The Island of Dr. Tanaka.”  I was writing it specifically for these two characters I rescued from another book’s backstory, but then I didn’t finish it during NaNoWriMo, and as I kept working on it, it just got slower and slower and I couldn’t finish and I couldn’t finish…until I finally realized it was the two characters who had gotten the project going in the first place who were also killing it.  They just don’t fit the story.  But I like the story, so I don’t want to just abandon it.  So now I’m going to need to start again, with new characters in their places, and come up with something else for them.  (There are a number of my Insecure Writer’s Support Group posts on this subject…))  It is exceptionally frustrating.  To the point that I’m not ready to work on either of the projects yet.  When the semester ends and I get my summer break time, I’m either going to finally re-write Book One of the YA project I’m talking about here, or work on a superhero-themed short story I’m working on coming up with characters for.

Or possibly both, trading off one to the other on my whims.

X*II. The Star: What is your fa*orite part of starting a new project? New notebook smell? Getting to know the characters? Building the plot?

Probably the plot.  It’s usually what gets me interested.  But sometimes it’s the characters.  When it’s both, that’s when I feel the most compelled to write.  That happened with this semi-YA series; I was excited about both the characters and the whole-series plot.

X*III. The Moon: What’s the biggest lie that your main character is telling herself?

For Atalanta, it’s that her father was a great man.  Achilles was certainly great on the battlefield, but off it he was pretty reprehensible.  (Though my Achilles in the books (each book starts with a prologue during the war) isn’t nearly as reprehensible as he should be, ’cause I’m not good at writing that kind of character.)  At one point the heroines go to the the house of Hades to talk to a shade (because how could they not?) and Hermes and Hades both work pretty hard to make sure that she doesn’t meet her father’s shade, because they don’t want her to get disillusioned and fail in her quest, since that would be bad for the gods.  (Part of Atalanta’s main impetus to be heroic is to try to be worthy of who she thinks her father was.)

Ariadne is also telling herself lies about her father.  At first, she’s telling herself that the men who fathered her and Atalanta weren’t really Odysseus and Achilles, but a couple of con men (in modern parlance) claiming to be Odysseus and Achilles.  (This despite that Atalanta — at nine years old — was strong enough to throw a grown man onto a one-story roof.)  Once the oracle at Delphi had addressed Ariadne as the daughter of Odysseus, it was harder to claim her father wasn’t really Odysseus, so then Ariadne starts lying to herself that Odysseus is the scum of the earth, the worst man in the history of humanity.  While Odysseus can be pretty reprehensible, he’s nowhere near that bad.  And when Ariadne finally spends some time with Odysseus, she’s quite cold to him, despite that he wants to take up his responsibilities as her father and he genuinely cares about her.  (Of course, at her age, the only responsibility left to a father towards his daughter is to find her a good husband and pay a big dowry, but…he both offers to do both and also promises that he won’t force a husband on her.  Which is pretty astonishing for the time period.)  So one of Ariadne’s major growth points is coming to accept him, at least a little bit.

But I came to realize that Ariadne is also telling herself a much bigger lie about the way she feels for Atalanta.  I started writing a follow-up to the final book, which starts out with them going to all the places they gained help during the main series, and letting them know that the enemy has been defeated.  But when they get to Troy, they’re going to meet up with the daughter of Hector, and following some desire on her part to kill Atalanta because of what happened between their fathers, more stuff will happen and they’ll end up on their way to Hattusa to see the Hittite king, and other stuff will happen, and I didn’t really get too far.  (They hadn’t reached Troy yet.)  Anyway, as I was writing that, returning to the characters after about a year, I suddenly realized that Ariadne didn’t just possess the standard cousins/sisters feelings for Atalanta:  she wasn’t aware of it, but her feelings were more romantic in nature.  I had not intended that to be the case, so I was pretty surprised by it.  I had Eurysakes point it out (he didn’t think it was right, since Atalanta and Ariadne had been raised pretty much like sisters) but Ariadne of course denied it utterly, unable to understand that about herself.  I’m not sure if I’ll make her realize he’s right or if she’ll keep denying it.  And I’m not sure if I’ll try to make it apparent in the main series as I re-write or if I’ll let it remain as it already is.

XIX. The Sun: Do any themes, symbols, or objects come full circle in your story?

Hmm….I can’t think of any, off-hand.  Except the prologues:  the first one shows the, well, the introduction (and leading off to the bedchamber) of the heriones’ fathers to their mothers, and then shows their births nine months later, while the final prologue returns to Lesbos and shows the girls at about nine years old, and shows their mothers again, while intimating some new things about why they were born.  I’m not sure if that’s really “full circle” or not, though.

XX. Judgement: Do your characters get what they deser*e? Why or why not?

Well, in the books already written, two of them basically do…sort of.  At that point, they’re all three heroes, and they should get a happy ending, right?  So at the ending of the last book, they’re all setting out on a journey together, to share the news of their triumph, and generally to enjoy the trip, glad that they won’t be attacked so much anymore.  This is exactly what Atalanta and Ariadne want, though they do merit better still.  Eurysakes wants to marry the woman he adores, but at the end of the book he still can’t, because Helen has not yet coaxed Ramses into allowing his adopted daughter to marry a non-Egyptian.  (Yes, Helen, Queen of Sparta, is trying to play matchmaker between a Greek prince and an Egyptian princess.  It’s that kind of series.)  So he hasn’t gotten the happy ending he wants yet.

After the books, though (and I mean after the unfinished one here), Eurysakes will get to marry his Egyptian princess, and he’ll go to rule Salamis, at least until he and his brother gift it to Athens.  This is will break up the trio, though of course the girls are welcome in Salamis at all times.  But their happy endings get less and less happy, because I had in mind another series, set millennia later:  Atalanta will be forced to accept immortality and marry a god (and yes, “forced” is the word, because she doesn’t like him) and Ariadne will be left alone.  So after the books, the heroines don’t get the happy ending they should.  Which I recognize is really weird, and a little messed up, especially considering the male in the trio does get his happy ending.  (Though Ariadne will end up in an Amazon-like town the heroes help establish in one of the books, so she’ll be all right, except for the pain of being parted from Atalanta.)

It’s probably weird that I came up with this much of what happens to them long after the books end…

XXI. The World: At what point did you know that you had to write this project?

After seeing two back-to-back film trailers that utterly desecrated the entire idea of ancient Greece, in my seething fury at Hollywood, I was re-reading and re-writing my Trojan War book.  When I got to the part about Achilles killing Thersites and being sent to Lesbos, where Odysseus would perform the purification rite to cleanse him of the homicide, I started wondering what happened when they were there other than the purification rite.  I started imagining a dialog between them, as Odysseus kept getting Achilles more and more drunk, mostly for the laughs.  (This dialog ended up being a large part of the prologue of book one.)  When I knew I had to write the project was when I started wondering what the two girls would name their daughters (who in my initial imagination were just going to run off to be Amazons) and as soon as I decided the daughter of Achilles would be called Atalanta, I knew I had to write their story in full.  (Naming her Atalanta was actually an inside joke to my Trojan War book:  when Thetis took the nine-or-so-years-old Achilles to Scyros to disguise him as a girl, he suggested that his girl name should be Atalanta, which of course Thetis rejected.)

 

So, that’s the end of the questions.  Since I’m just borrowing the questions and wasn’t strictly speaking tagged (she just left an open “anyone reading this” kind of tag) I’m not gonna tag anyone else.  ‘Cause weird.

Anyway, for those unfamiliar with me talking about these books, I want to point out that this is the first time the heroines’ names appear on my blog.  (Well, in connection with these characters, anyway.  The names show up in talking about the original mythical characters for whom these characters are named.)  I’m not sure if using their names like this is proof that any hope of publishing has disappeared, or if this means I actually secretly still think it’ll someday be publishable and I’m subconsciously trying to raise interest.

Ugh, this turned out way too long.  (Took like two hours!)  Why do I always think long things are going to be short?


MLM icon init MLM V

E is for El-lal

Published April 6, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

E

In what we now call Patagonia, back in the mists of time, there lived a couple, Nosjthej and his wife.

Now, Nosjthej was not a terribly nice person.  In fact, as his wife swelled up with child, he began to take a dislike to the whole idea of having a child.  It seemed like a bad thing to him, something to be avoided at all costs.

So, when his wife was about to give birth, he reached into her womb and snatched out the baby, planning to eat it and thus put an end to it.

But the child fell from his grasp and was carried off to safety by a rat.

In the rat’s nest, the child grew to manhood, and he was called El-lal.

The rat was a very wise rat, as well as an oddly kind one, and it had taught El-lal many things that the rest of the human race didn’t know, especially how to bend things to his will.

He used that power to create the first bow and arrow, and using that new weapon, he marched to war against his wicked father, and against a race of giant demons who lived in the area.

Once his home had been freed of these terrible beings, El-lal gave his bow to the other humans, and taught them how to use it, then departed the earth, leaving to live in the sky.


So, once again, I’ve failed to find something with a strong, non-Greek comparison. *sigh*

But the Greek comparison is a pretty strong one!

Like Nosjthej, Kronos snatched up his newborn children to eat them.  But Zeus — like El-lal — was whisked away to safety, so he could grow to manhood and avenge himself (and his siblings).  The race of giants or demons (my sources used both words) aren’t specified as being Nosjthej’s siblings, the way the Titans were the siblings of Kronos, but the fact that a whole race of monstrous beings had to be defeated before the rescued infant’s triumph was complete seems like a pretty solid comparison none the less.

And they both go to live in the sky when it’s over, too.

Of course, Zeus was never human or mortal, and he wasn’t the one to invent the bow and arrow (or any other weapon), but no comparison can be perfect, right?

But really this is one of the strongest — and strangest — parallels I’ve seen.  (Though it’s not helped by the fact that El-lal’s story has only come to me in the most condensed of forms.  There was no reason given as to why his father would want to devour him, none whatsoever.)  And the sources of the myths are quite far apart in space, climate and most likely in time as well.  (My sources were also silent on just how old the Patagonian myth is…but I suspect they don’t actually know, considering writing wouldn’t have arrived there until the 17th century.)  So why do both of them feature a cannibalistic father and a rescued child who grows up to subdue both his father and a whole race of powerful beings?

Without the time to research the Patagonian culture whose hero El-lal is, I obviously can’t give a satisfactory answer to that question, much as it annoys me to say so.  One possibility is that ritual sacrifice and cannibalism (of children?) was at some time part of both cultures.  I know I’ve seen it theorized that all the cannibalism in Greek myths indicate that there was once cannibalism in the area, back in the early pre-history of the culture.  (I’m not sure how well accepted that theory is, of course, but I’ve seen an entire book on the subject in the university library, so it must have at least some acceptance.)  If a theory like that applies to one culture, it might apply to another as well.

Or it could just be proof of how terrible his father is, and how mighty he is to be able to defeat him.  Either works.  (Or it could be both…)

So, I’m sorry about all the question marks in the post-comparison section, but I hope they didn’t detract from the comparison itself!

(Also, I’m sorry not to provide any illustrations.  I couldn’t find any artworks for El-lal, and the Kronos images weren’t ancient Greek.  I was tempted to fudge and use Goya…but just looking at the thumbnails gave me the heebie-jeebies, so I decided against it.  Seriously nightmarish, that…and having essentially seen it in animated form doesn’t help.)

[BTW, if you’re looking for my IWSG post, it’s right here.]

C is for Catequil

Published April 4, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

C

Catequil is one of the Incan gods of thunder.  (The other, Illapa, was originally the primary deity of the Qulla kingdom, added to the Incan pantheon after they conquered it.)

His methods of creating thunder and lightning were, of course, violent:  he beat the winds with a club to make thunder, and used a sling to throw thunderbolts.  (My sources were very vague here:  I’m not sure if this meant they saw thunder as starting out like a sling pellet, or if the source meant something more akin to an atlatl than a sling.  Though I’m not actually sure, now that I come to write that, that they had atlatl in the Andes.  They should have had them, given that there was trade that passed up well into Mesoamerica, but…I’m feeling doubt.   Possibly because I got really delayed and did very little pre-writing, so instead of writing this two weeks ago, I’m writing it yesterday.  (Well, yesterday to you reading it on April 4th.  It’s obviously today for me as I write it.  And yesterday (my yesterday) was spent hiking all over a pretty big convention center on about three hours of sleep.  So I’m still pretty exhausted, and therefore a teensy bit out of it.)  Still, I feel like I’ve seen atlatl-like devices in Moche art, so the Inca should have had them….or am I losing my mind?)

Okay, anyway, moving on.  Pretty much all polytheistic cultures have thunder gods — and many non-polytheistic cultures had spirits and such that were assigned credit/blame for thunder and lightning — so I will not be going into the generic comparisons here, because there’s just too many to list.

But there was one other thing I detail I found about Catequil, though I admit that my source may not be the best here.  (Unfortunately, “C” did not turn out to be a good letter for me, somehow.  Most of what I found didn’t compare well.)  Anyway, according to that source, Catequil sometimes would turn into a lightning-bolt himself, and enter into a woman’s body as she was having intercourse with her husband.  This would result in twins, one belonging to the husband, and the other to the god.

Now that gives me something to go on!

Seeing twins as belonging one to a mortal man and one to a god was not all that unusual, I’m sure.  (Unfortunately, I only just now thought of looking that up, and I’m headed back to the convention in about ten minutes, so I can’t really research it right now.  Ugh.  Hopefully this will be the month’s low point…)

But there’s one that screams out “hey, don’t forget about me!”  Because there’s one set of twins born one to the woman’s husband, and one born to a thunder god.

And I’m sure — if you know anything about me or my blog — that you know I’m talking about the Dioscuri.

As is well known, the horny sky-god Zeus took on the form of a swan in order to have his way with Leda, Queen of Sparta.  (This has been well — perhaps over — celebrated in art, in ancient times as well as from the Renaissance onwards.)  But she also had sex with her husband Tyndareos on the same day.  (In reality, to bear twins to two men, sleeping with them on the exact same day would not be required, but…how could they know that?)

The result, as is well known, was two sets of twins, the Dioscuri Castor and Polydeuces, and the femme fatale pair Helen and Clytemnestra.  (Naturally the women get the bad side of the arrangement.  I love Greek myths, but I hate the misogyny so rife in the myth — and culture.  And yes, I realize that doesn’t make a lot of sense.)

I feel like I had more to say on this when I started it.  However, that was an exhausting day ago, and I no longer remember.

Sorry this sort of petered out and died.

Hopefully it won’t happen again.

Phaethon

Published February 25, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

It’s been pretty nuts around here lately, and likely to get even worse from here on out.  (I have to get yet another MRI tomorrow.  Ugh.)  But I should have time to write this post before diving head first back into my class reading.  (An absurd statement to make, since the post will, by necessity, already be finished before anyone else can read it.)

Anyway, if you’re only familiar with Ovid’s version of this story (and since that’s the one people usually repeat, that seems likely) then you may find some surprises in store.


Helios, the son of the Titan Hyperion, had inherited the chariot of the sun from his father early on.  Hyperion, like the other free Titans, hadn’t felt entirely welcome under the reign of Zeus (despite that he hadn’t helped Kronos and the other Titans, and had, in fact, aided Zeus and the gods) and had wanted to retire, to be the subject of less attention.  Since Helios loved to shine and have people look at him, he was all in favor of taking over his father’s job.  (It little bothered him that any mortal who looked at him while he was in the chariot would lose his eyesight.  Like the other immortals of his generation, Helios could be quite short-sighted.)

After spending a few (mortal) generations getting used to his job, Helios settled into a steady routine, as well the sun should.  (It did, after all, tend to panic the mortals if he failed to show up for work some morning!)

Like many others among the younger immortals, Helios had quite the eye for female beauty — in fact, he and Apollo so often went girl-hunting together that some mortals (particularly in the boot-shaped bit of land to the west of Hellas) began not only to associate them with each other, but even to confuse them for each other! — and whenever he noticed a promising beauty as he was traveling across the sky, he would take note of her location, and return to visit her in the night.

One of these mortal girls so pleased Helios that he brought her back to his palace with him, and they had four children together; three daughters, Lampetie, Aigle, and Phaethousa, and one son, Phaethon.

Now, these children were all reared on stories of their father’s exploits (most having been made up by their father, as he hardly had time for any ‘exploits,’ what with driving the sun-chariot all day every day), and on tales of their grandfather Hyperion, the first to drive the sun-chariot.  Phaethon in particular relished the tale of how Helios had inherited Hyperion’s mantle as the sun, certain that the day would come when Helios would step down and turn the reins over to him.

Whenever Phaethon said so, Helios avoided his gaze.  Helios knew that, since their mother was mortal, these children were likely to be mortal, too.  But he had never had the heart to tell them so, and their mother had passed away so long ago that the children barely remembered she had ever existed, so there was no one to break the truth to them gently.

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Typhoeus

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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Missing Letter Mondays – No “G”

Published January 11, 2016 by Iphis of Scyros

“Mother Earth”

Born at the start of it all,
Mother to so many,
With so many.

Her first husbands,
Ouranos and Pontos.
Also her sons.
(Eeew.)
They had no fathers.

Nereus,
Thaumas,
Phorkys,
Eurybia,
Even monstrous Ceto;
Pontos fathered these few.

Titans,
Cyclopes,
Hundred-handers,
Ouranos fathered so many.

Mother Earth
Loved her children,
One and all.

But Ouranos
Was a terrible father.
He hated his hideous sons,
Those with only one eye,
And those with too many hands.

They were forced back,
Into their mother’s womb;
Mother Earth’s body
Became her sons’ prison.

Mother Earth wept
For her imprisoned sons,
And pleaded with her other sons
To save them.

Only Kronos answered her pleas,
But he did so in a crooked manner,
To take his father’s place
And rule over the cosmos.

Castrated and defeated,
Ouranos was exiled
To become the sky,
To touch
Mother Earth
Nevermore.

Mother Earth
Rejoiced,
But too soon.

Kronos was no better
Than his father.

The Cyclopes remained prisoners.
The Hundred-handers remained prisoners.
Mother Earth was still a jail.

She helped her son’s son,
Zeus, newborn and still weak,
To overthrow his father.

The Cyclopes were freed.
The Hundred-handers were freed.
But the Titans were imprisoned.
Mother Earth was still a jail,
And Zeus ruled supreme.

“Next time,
There shall be no new tyrant,”
Mother Earth swore.
“Next time,
There must be only defeat.”

Typhoeus.

A storm of destruction.

Monster of monsters.
Father of monsters.

But even he was defeated,
And Zeus still ruled supreme.

Mother Earth
Tried to console herself.
She took on new names,
And admitted new worshippers —
Those frail creatures called mortals —
And strove to find new love,
New respect,
In the distant lands,
Where Zeus was not known.

Cybele was revered
In holy Ilios,
But Troy fell to Achaian blades,
And Cybele became known in Hellas,
Mother Earth once more.

Mesopotamia was even worse for
Mother Earth.
They mistook her for terrible
Tiamat,
Mother Ocean.

Around the Nile Delta,
Mother Earth felt no connection,
And found not the love she wished.

Mother Earth wept,
And pitied her sons the Titans,
Eternally imprisoned in her womb.


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…that turned weird

(For a somewhat more clear version of the first part of the story, click here.)

 

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