Mythology Monday: Dionysus

Dionysus, Bacchus, Bacchanalia, Greek mythology, young adult greek mythology retelling, Daughters of Zeus, Persephone, Kaitlin Bevis

Dionysus (Bacchus) was the Greek god of revelry and pleasure. Depending on which painted vase you’re looking at, he was either an old man with a beard, or a pretty boy with long hair. He was the son of Zeus and a princess of Thebes named Semele (or possibly he was a son of Zeus and Demeter, Io, Dione, Arge, Persephone, Io, or Lethe, or possibly the son of Ammon and Amaltheia, but let’s go with Semele). While Semele was pregnant with Dionysus, Zeus promised her anything she asked. Hera tricked Semele into asking to see Zeus in his full glory. Zeus, bound by his promise, had to comply, and Semele burned to a crisp. Zeus managed to save Dionysus by sewing him into his thigh and carrying him to term. (The gods are SO weird!)

OR Dionysus is a son of Demeter or Persephone and Zeus and was sent to be eaten by the Titans by a jealous Hera. Zeus swooped in to save the day and found they’d already eaten everything but his heart. Athena or Rhea or Demeter managed to restore him from that by placing the heart in Zeus’s thigh until he reformed and Zeus gave birth. Because of this dying then being born thing, he’s considered a death and rebirth deity.

After giving birth, Zeus sent Dionysus to live (in some versions of the myth disguised as a girl) with Semele’s sister, Ino, and brother-in-law, Athamas (He may have lived with some nymphs prior to moving in with his aunt and uncle, or he might have lived with a daughter of  Aristaeus, and Athena named Nysa, or Hermes, or Persephone, or Rhea). Hera, enraged to discover the child still lived, drove Ino and Athamas insane. They killed their children and then themselves. In some versions of the myth, Zeus saved Athamas from madness by turning him into a ram and having him take the young Dionysus into a cave on Mount Nysa, where he was then brought up by Nymphs. I’m sure Athamas appreciated being rescued from madness after his wife and children were slaughtered by his own hands.

Dionysus grew up among one group of nymphs or another (his origin stories are vast if you can’t tell. There’s about as many different versions as there were people in ancient Greece), and possibly took lessons from Chiron. As an adult, Hera cursed him with madness and forced him to roam the country side introducing people to the wonders of wine. This trick had a profound impact on the young Dionysus, and violence and madness became his go-to punishment. King Lycurgus angered Dionysus and ended up killing his entire family and then himself with an ax (he thought they were vines). King Pentheus was torn limb from limb by his daughters and/or wife, King Proteus was flayed alive for refusing the introduction of the grape vine, a group of pirates leapt overboard convinced they were dolphins, women who didn’t acknowledge his divinity ate their young, a nymph who pursued him was (predictably) turned into a plant, and so on. This was not a guy you wanted to upset. Despite that bloody history, he was regarded as a god of peace, civilization, and law.

He was also all about partying. His bacchanalias were famous. He went everywhere, establishing towns, introducing wine, driving out and killing invading amazons. He cursed Midas with the golden touch (though it was intended to be a gift) and eventually journeyed to the Underworld and led his mother back to the realm of the living.

In some versions of the myths he could tell the future or heal mankind. He was often seen as a god of art or protector of theater.

Dionysus came about fairly late in the Pantheon, and some interpretations of the myth suggest many myths involving Demeter may have been altered to give Dionysus credit (I mean, think about it, she was the goddess of the harvest, wine should be her thing). He’s also virtually identical to Iachus and a few more minor mythological gods and figures that may have combined to create one deity. Other interpretations consider him to be another aspect of Hades because “the cult of Dionysus is also a “cult of the souls”; his maenads feed the dead through blood-offerings, and he acts as a divine communicant between the living and the dead” (thank you wikipedia).

You’ll notice Dionysus isn’t included in my books, like, at all. That’s mostly because he is such a compilation of other deities that I have included/may include in my books. His insanity is reflected in Zeus, his chthonic tendencies in Hades, his powers in Demeter. Orpheus and some not-yet-introduced characters share other characteristics. Plus, he’s technically a demigod, so if he did exist in my universe, his time would have already come and gone.

FAQ Friday: The Gods Can’t Lie

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

*Spoiler warning for events in Persephone and Daughter of the Earth and Sky and Iron Queen*

Thanatos looked down at the marble floors, scuffing his black shoes back and forth. “Have you told . . . anyone that you charmed me?”

I frowned, thinking back. I’d told my mother and Melissa about the fight with Boreas, but between witnessing and then committing a murder, charming Thanatos wasn’t all that memorable. I studied Thanatos. It was memorable for him. His face was flushed, his hands were gripped tightly together, and he wouldn’t meet my eyes.

He’s embarrassed. I remembered him saying I outranked him, and as far as bloodlines went, I did, but knowing that and having his will overpowered by a goddess who hadn’t even come into her powers couldn’t feel very good.

“I haven’t told anyone.”

“Is there any way . . . I hate asking you this, but could you promise not to tell anyone anything about me? It’s just that I’d never live it down if anyone ever found out I’d been charmed.”

I smiled at him. “I promise. I can’t promise Hades won’t figure it out, but he won’t have any help from me.”

A grin broke out across his face. “Thank you.”

~@~

Q: Since Persephone inadvertently bound herself to Thanatos, it suggests things said in ignorance must also be true. So… are we then to assume that she never once got a question on a test wrong?

A: This is a question in two parts, so I’m going to divide my answer.

Persephone didn’t bind herself to Thanatos in ignorance in terms of the actual promise sworn, just the repercussions. If you look at the wording above, she swore exactly what she meant to. She promised not to tell anyone anything about Thanatos, and then she took it one step further and promised not to help Hades figure out that he’d been charmed. She knows all the meanings behind the words, the implication of the it, all of it. What she doesn’t know is everything Thanatos has ever said or done, but that knowledge has no bearing on what she actually promised. It doesn’t matter that she didn’t know Thanatos was working with Zeus because her promise had nothing to do with that knowledge. She promised not to tell anyone anything about Thanatos at all. No expiration date, no limits.

The problem with Persephone’s promise was that it was that pesky word anything. She physically cannot tell anyone a single thing about Thanatos, ever. That’s all-encompassing. If Thanatos had never betrayed her, if they went on to be best friends, and three years down the road, Hades asked “Hey, are you seeing Thanatos later today?” She physically could not say yes.

The second issue with the promise is that she promised not to do anything to help Hades figure out that he was charmed. Here’s where ignorance could play a part as long as she’s careful. For example, if she really stopped and thought about it, her hatred of Reapers could tip Hades off that something is up with his head reaper. She doesn’t think about it, so she objects at the Reaper guard. If she had continued to never think about it, if she’d never linked Thanatos and the Reapers in her mind, she could have gone to Hades and told him that the Reapers were hurting her. But she connected the two as a way that Hades could figure out Thanatos was working for Zeus which means she could have charmed him in that clearing and because of that she physically cannot go to Hades. Here’s the thing. She was wrong. Hades finds out about the Reapers and he still doesn’t connect the dots, if the truth telling thing was only about facts not impressions, she should have been able to open her mouth and say it. It’s her interpretation of her knowledge that stops her from being able to speak.

 

So as far as lying in ignorance, yes, the gods can absolutely do that. The no lying thing only works if they know they are lying. Persephone could never have possibly said Zeus is dead if she hadn’t been led to believe that was true. This is why in book three, Zeus is attempting to break her sanity in order to gain fealty from her. She swore not to do Hades harm, but her keeping that promise is really depending on her understanding an action could harm him.

I’m sure that’s about as clear as mud, so let me try to simply. If you asked a two year old god “What is two + two” and they answered three, they are not, to their knowledge lying. They may firmly believe that answer is true. If you ask a three year old what is two + two, they may not be able to physically answer because they don’t know the right answer, but they know enough to know they don’t know  the right answer.

The purpose of the no-lying thing is that words have power and when a god tells an untruth they have the ability to change the nature of the thing they are lying about. That kind of change requires intention. Remember, child gods like Persephone are rare, and those with enough power to actually impact anything enough to change it are non-existent because of the precautions gods took to make sure they would not bind themselves into a situation like Persephone’s. It’s because of the way she was raised human, surrounded by all the idioms and exaggerations, that she made such a foolish promise without thinking about it.

 

Arch Plot, Mini-plot, and Anti-plot

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to edit

According to The Story Grid, the next step after establishing your stories genre is to establish which type of plot structure  you will be using to drive the story forward.

There are three.

The Arch Plot, which is what most stories will fall into. This is your classic plot, the heroes journey, the quest story. Even if your protagonist isn’t setting off to destroy the ring, they have a goal they are striving to accomplish by the end of the story, and the same basic beats exist story to story.

The Mini-Plot focuses on much more internal conflicts. Bottle episodes fall under the category of mini-plot.

The Anti-Plot  throws away all the rules of story telling. The narrative can be fractured, reality and time up in the air, the protagonist doesn’t change. It’s post-modernism at its finest.

For most writers, the arch-plot is your go-to story. There’s an occasional mini-plot thrown in there on the literary end. Anti-plots I can’t help you with. I was exposed to many throughout my years in college, and I always found them to be pretentious. Maybe that assumption was a defense mechanism because nine times out of ten, I just straight up didn’t get the story. But I really don’t see myself coming around on the anti-plot structure.

Can you think of any examples of stories that fall into these three plot structures?

Announcing Spring 2017 YASH Teams!

For all of you who love finding new reads, I have just the thing for you. The YA Scavenger Hunt is coming. If you’ve never heard of it, the hunt runs twice a year in the spring and in the fall. During the hunt we showcase new and upcoming YA releases, give out tons of prizes, and release special bonus material. Sound interesting?

This spring we will have one hundred authors split into five teams of twenty. Each team is assigned a color. The blog hop begins April 4th and runs through Sunday, April 9th. It’s easy to play. All you have to do is either start on my blog or head directly over to the YASH website. There you’ll find a list of all the authors participating as well as an answer sheet you can print off to gather the info you’re hunting for and to keep track of any bonus contests you may have entered.

Are you ready to see all the books featured this season? Here they are! You can also see them on this handy goodreads list.

 

Which teams are you most excited about? Are you #TeamBlue? #TeamPurple? Let us know in the comments.

FAQ Friday: Medusa

Question mark in a blue bubble. Repeating icon for the frequently asked questions in the Daughters of Zeus series a young adult greek mythology retelling by Kaitlin Bevis

Q: Where can I get the short story, Medusa?

A: A shortened version of the story, Medusa, was included in the second (current) edition of Persephone. If you have the first edition e-book, I’d check to see if you can update in the kindle settings under your account. Outside of that, you have a few options.

  1. Sign up for my newsletter to be the first to learn when Persephone goes on sale.
  2. Wait. An extended version of Medusa will be included in the Snakes and Stones Anthology. The Snakes and Stones Anthology will feature eight different retellings of the Medusa myth, including mine. It will be released this summer.
  3. Wait even longer. There’s also been some murmurings of doing an anthology of short stories with Belle Books, but that’s quite some time down the road

Genre Conventions and Obligatory Scenes

Book cover for The Story Grid by Shawn Coyne, #amwriting, #amediting, book review, how to write, how to edit

In the Story Grid, Shawn Coyne talks at length about the conventions and obligatory scenes in different genres. Writing Excuses Season 11 goes into this as well.

Every genre has conventions. “Specific requirements in terms of the story’s cast or methods in moving the plot forward” (Story Grid, 47). The crime thriller is going to have a crime committed, a detective to solve it, and a criminal to commit the crime. A romance is going to have two characters fall in love with each other. Those facts are the conventions.

Obligatory scenes are the specific way those conventions are carried out. For instance, in a romance novel, there’s a first kiss scene. In a hero’s journey there’s the darkest night scene.

The fact that genres and conventions have obligatory scenes doesn’t mean that every single darkest night is the same or every conventional character is the same. It’s the way authors take what’s expected, what’s required for a genre and change it to fit their story that makes the conventions and obligatory scenes work. That moment in Inside Out where Joy is stuck down in the pit sobbing over Riley’s memories works even though a darkest night has been done in literally every movie and story ever written before. But you couldn’t take that moment and put it in something even similar. It wouldn’t have worked in Wreck it Ralph for instance because his darkest night had to feature him wrecking something.

Book Signing

happy-st-patrivcks-day-from-beautiful-girl

Remember to wear green!

 

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, come join me tomorrow at the Phoenix and Dragon Bookstore in Atlanta, Georgia for a book signing at 2:00 PM!

Here’s the address:

5531 Roswell Road NE
Atlanta,GA 30342
Phone: 404-255-5207

And you can find more information on their website. http://www.phoenixanddragon.com/index.html

 

 

Mythology Monday: Chthonic Deities

Chthonic deities, Underworld, Greek mythology, Retellings, Daughters of Zeus, young adult greek mythology retelling, Hades, Persephone ,Thanatos , The Judges , Cerberus, Charon, Cronus , Erinyes , Hecate , Hermes , Hypnos , Moirai ,Nyx ,  Acheron , Arae,  Ascalaphus , Kakodaimones ,Empusa ,Epiales , Erebus ,  Keres , Lamia , Lethe , Leuce , Melinoe , Minthe , Mormolyceia (Mormos) , Oneiroi , Styx , Tartarus ,Daira, Eurynomus, Gorgyra, Lampades, Cocytus, Macaria, Menoetes, Phlegethon, Trophonius,

Orpheus spoke up. “Last time I saw you, you didn’t even know you were a goddess. How did you end up down here? You don’t look like you belong with the chthonic group. No offense,” he said to Hades.

“Not that it’s any of your business, but her parents are Olympian,” Hades replied.

“Chthonic? Olympian? What are you guys talking about?”

“Chthonic deities are gods associated with the Underworld. We tend to have darker features.” Hades motioned to his black hair. “Olympians were associated with Olympus, and were various shades of blond. The primordials tended to represent their element to the extreme, and the Titans were . . . well, titanic in size.”

I blinked. Gods were classified by appearance? I supposed it wasn’t relevant anymore with so few of us left, but the whole system seemed strange to me. None of that mattered, though, because Orpheus remembered the last time he saw me! I was sure my face was bright red. Hades sighed, no doubt bored by the whole conversation.

~@~

Chthonic deities were gods associated with the Underworld. Below are links to descriptions of the more important Chthonic Deities.

Hades | Persephone | Thanatos |  The Judges Cerberus |Charon | Cronus | Erinyes | Hecate | Hermes | Hypnos | Moirai | Nyx |  Acheron | AraeAscalaphusKakodaimones |   |Empusa |Epiales | Erebus |  Keres | Lamia | Lethe | Leuce | MelinoeMinthe Mormolyceia (Mormos) | Oneiroi | Styx | Tartarus 

And this is a list of the Chthonic deities too minor to get their own blog.

Daira (Knowing One or Teacher), was a daughter of Oceanus, sister to Styx, and a key figure in the Eleusinian mysteries. While Demeter was searching for Persephone, she visited a town called Eleusis, and drank water from a particular well. Daira was the Naiad attached to that well. She was also the mother of the king, Eleusis, by Hermes.

Daira initiated members into the mystery cult that worshipped Demeter, Persephone, and Hekate. Persephone and Hekate both sometimes borrowed Daira’s name in invocations.

Eurynomus (Wide Ruling), played an important role in keeping the Underworld clean by stripping the corpses of their skin. This underworld spirit was often depicted with blue-black skin and rode around on a vulture.

Gorgyra (Underwater Drain), may have been another name for the River Styx or in her other form, Gorgyra Orphne, Nyx. She and Acheron were the parents of Ascalaphus.

Lampades were torch bearing nymphs of the Underworld, and gifts from Zeus to Hekate because of her loyalty in the Titanomachy. The light from their torches had the power to drive people to insanity, so naturally they accompanied Hekate on all her nighttime hauntings and revels.

Cocytus was both a river (of tears) and a goddess (of sorrow) in the Underworld.

Macaria (not to be confused with the daughter of Hercules) was the goddess of blessed death. She is a daughter of Hades (no mother is ever mentioned, but the man was fairly monogamous). She might have been a kinder counterpart to Thanatos or she might have led the souls to the isle of the blessed, or she might not have been a goddess at all and might have just been an expression (go in peace). Very, very minor goddess.

Menoetes (Doomed Might) was a spirit who herded cattle in the Underworld. While Hercules was in the Underworld for his 12th labor, the two wrestled, and Menoetes lost. Fortunately, Persephone was there to save him.

Phlegethon (flaming) was one of the five rivers located in the Underworld and/or the god of the river of fire located in the Underworld. The river was made of fire and, in my universe, acted as the division between the Asphodel fields and Tartarus. I’ve heard a myth that says that he and Styx were in love. As rivers, they flowed into one another.

Trophonius (Nourisher of the Mind) was the demigod son of Apollo and Erginos. He and his brother Agamedes built the temple to Apollo at Delphi. As a reward, both brothers were told to do anything they wanted for six days, and on the seventh day, their greatest wish would be granted. Both brothers were found dead on the seventh day (possibly for stealing treasure) in a cave near Lebadeia in Boiotia. Trophonius is considered to be the cave spirit for what became a sacred site.

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Chthonic Deities. If you enjoyed the Persephone series, follow up with the Aphrodite trilogy. Love and War is on sale today for .99 cents.