Molly Ringle is back, promoting the third book in her trilogy, Immortal’s Spring! Check it out on amazon now!
Thanks for having me back, Kaitlin!
Probably the coolest thing for me about reading Kaitlin’s series (and Rick Riordan’s, and others based on myth) is finding the common cores that we’ve each kept inside each of these famous characters, even if we’ve fleshed them out in different directions. This week on that subject: Poseidon and Ares.
As god of the sea, Poseidon has dominion over marine life, waves, and tides, but can also cause storms and earthquakes (because the sea “holds” the earth, is how one interpretation explains it). Also, surprisingly for a sea god, he created horses and has a special affinity with them.
For the ancient Greeks, surrounded by the Mediterranean on nearly all sides, the sea was of gigantic importance, both in good ways and bad. It gave them plentiful food, immense beauty, and a route to far-off countries. But it also sank ships and drowned people, destroyed cities with tsunamis, and provided a way for invaders to sail right in and start attacking. All things considered, it’s easy to see why Poseidon (or indeed, any god) was viewed as someone both beneficent and dangerous.
The gods in my series (Persephone’s Orchard, Underworld’s Daughter, and Immortal’s Spring) are more human-scale than in the myths. My Poseidon, we learn in Immortal’s Spring, does wield a fair amount of water magic—he can topple enemy boats with waves, and swim pretty much endlessly—but he can’t cause earthquakes or storms, nor can he breathe underwater. Still, he realizes his abilities would make him an asset in sea wars, and knows the ambitious Zeus would pressure him into using his powers for that end, so he keeps his magic hidden from most. One of the only people who knows about it shares the powers herself: Amphitrite, who will eventually become his wife.
The Poseidon in my series is better behaved and more sympathetic on the whole than his counterpart in Kaitlin’s series, but we flipped sides when it came to Ares. He’s basically one of the villains in my series—the arrogant, bloodthirsty god of war who has a tendency to make terrible decisions, usually involving violence. Plenty of myths show him in this light too, so it made him handy when I needed an immortal to do facepalm-worthy things. In Kaitlin’s series he’s appealingly gentle-hearted under his mandated god-of-war duties, and I came to like him quite soon, which was a fun surprise.
But something Kaitlin, the myths, and I agree upon is that if there’s anything that softens Ares’ heart (and therefore might soften him in our eyes), it’s his love for Aphrodite. It’s a strange but rather beautiful pairing: the goddess of love and the god of war, who have in mythology an ongoing passionate relationship. What does that say about humanity, do you think? Or about love, or about war?
Perhaps we can take heart that in mythology, Aphrodite and Ares produce a daughter: Harmonia, the goddess of harmony. So if the dangerous passions of love and war can be brought together to produce the spirit of harmony, maybe there is hope for us all. That said, Harmonia in her own marriage, along with her descendants, did not enjoy entirely peaceful lives…but that’s a myth for another day.