Mythology Monday: Demigods


“How will I know who’s a demigod?”

“By sight. As halflings, they’ll have ichor running through their veins.” I looked at him blankly and he sighed. “The golden blood of the gods?”

“I have gold blood?” I asked incredulously. At this point, why not, I thought ruefully. Hell, I can probably fly.

“Not in color,” Hades clarified. “In essence. Though it does affect their appearance.”

“How?”

“They look gold.” At my disbelieving look he sighed again. I thought about offering him an inhaler, but he continued. “Gold hair, skin, eyes—they practically glow. Surely you’ve met a demigod, either here or on the surface. It’s a useful marker we decided on long ago. Accidentally killing or cursing another god’s child is rife with political complications.”

~@~

Demigods were the semi-divine offspring of a god and a human. They often showed semi-divine characteristics such as increased strength, resilience, inhuman beauty, and access to super special weapons. Today, we call them super heroes. Notable demigods in the Greek and Roman pantheon include Hercules, Achilles, Helen of Troy, Pirithous, Theseus, and dozens of others.

In my books, demigods are marked by golden features (hair, skin, eyes) so that gods don’t set off a war by accidentally killing the offspring of another god. Hades mentions it’s hard to miss by saying they practically glow. Recently a reader expressed concern that by turning all the demigods gold, I was whitewashing Greek mythology. Just to clarify, the coloration of model above, while gorgeous, is not the set template for all demigods. Even in our reality there are as many shades of skin that could be described as golden as there are tan. A variety of hair colors can have golden tones if you think in terms of the color gold, not pale blonde. Brown eyes are often described as golden and they occur within every ethnicity. Now, I did indicate an unnatural brightness to the color, but I never intended for it to be considered a singular shade.

Persephone meets four demigods in the course of her trilogy. Orpheus, Helen of Troy, Pirithous, and Adonis. They’ll each have a mythology Monday in the coming weeks. While Persephone does note that Orpheus and Pirithous had almost identical coloring, I made a point to have Persephone make a big deal over Helen’s hair color to indicate the demigods are not identical in coloration. She describes Helen’s hair as “a beautiful shade of red and blonde that combined to make a golden color I’d never seen before,” despite having met Pirithous and Orpheus prior to the demigoddess.

Persephone is not the most observant of characters, so have other people in her world noted the unusual coloration of the demigods? Yes. But you also have to remember that in this world, demigods have existed from the beginning of time across all regions because the gods were pretty prolific. So to them, the combination of bright golden features is like green eyes. Rare, but not unnatural.

The life and coloring of the demigods will be gone into significantly more in Aphrodite’s trilogy when Demigods begin to go missing. And hopefully I’ll have more news on that front within the next few weeks.

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