Mythology Monday: Lethe

Don't forget, blue elephant, river lethe, greek mythology, the underworld

“So that—” Cassandra pointed at one of the beautiful rivers winding its way through the landscape “—is the River Lethe. Don’t drink the water, bathe in it, or even touch it.”

“Why?” I gazed longingly at the translucent water and pressed my hand against the cool glass. I’ve always hated swimming, and all the water I’d ever drank came from a faucet, but something about the sparkling water called to every fiber of my being.

“You’ll forget things. Sometimes when a soul comes here, their death was traumatizing, or maybe their whole life sucked. This river gives them a chance to forget the things that would otherwise haunt them.”

“Like Oreithyia?”

Cassandra hesitated. “She’s an extreme case. There are different levels of memory loss. The Lethe can take away all memories associated with a singular event or person, or wipe away their entire lives, and everything in between. Some memories go deeper than others. Boreas knew she would be coming here so he . . . made it difficult. He doesn’t like to be forgotten.”

I didn’t ask how. I was having a hard enough time dwelling on what could have happened to me. I didn’t need further details.

“We also use it on people who’ve done bad things in life,” Cassandra continued. “We take away all their memories, and they serve in the palace or around the Underworld until their sentence is up.”

That didn’t seem like much of a punishment. “Why?”

“For most people, their circumstances contributed to whatever crime they committed. This gives them a blank slate. When they finish their sentence they can live the rest of their afterlife in peace. Of course it doesn’t work like that for everyone, but between me and Moirae we can usually tell who should go straight to Tartarus.”

~@~

Lethe (the River of Unmindfulness) is both a river in the Underworld and a goddess of oblivion (daughter of Eris and Oceanus). Geographically, if flowed around the caves of Hypnos on the border of Elysium. Souls who drank from her water soon forgot all they knew, so the dead frequently used it to forget their mortal lives. In some versions of the myths, every resident of the Underworld had to drink from the water and were forced to forget their entire lives. In others, drinking from the Lethe was a requirement for reincarnation. Some cults taught souls were given a choice between the Lethe or a twin river called the Mnemosyne that would give memories and even omnipotence.

In my universe, the Lethe doesn’t equal complete forgetfulness unless a soul drinks a lot of it. There are levels and it can be used to forget specific traumas or for souls who committed crimes in their mortal lives to forget both the crimes and the circumstances. The reason for that is two fold (and very inspired by Kelley Armstrong’s Haunted).

 

Mythology Monday: Aphrodite

In honor of Valentine’s Day tomorrow, I’m reposting my Mythology Monday on The Goddess of Love.

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In the distance, a girl stood thigh-high in the ocean, clad in a gown of strategically placed sea foam. Although her back was to me, I could tell she was perfect. The curly ringlets of hair cascading down her flawless cream skin matched the intense orange of the sky as the sun sank in the sea.

I glanced down at my sun-kissed skin. I’d never felt self-conscious because of a tan before but gods. She made pale look really good. A movement caught my attention and I glanced up as she looked over her shoulder, aquamarine eyes meeting mine. 

“Who is that?” I motioned at the water. “And why did you send for me? What do you know about Zeus?”

“Look at her. You can’t tell what she is?” Poseidon replied.

I stared at the girl, her red hair swirling in the wind. I could tell she was a goddess, but knew he meant something more than that.

Hades narrowed his eyes and swore. “What has Zeus done?”

I gave the girl a closer look, but couldn’t see anything different.

“You are new,” Poseidon mused, looking me over curiously. “How old are you?”

“She’s Zeus’,” Hades explained, motioning toward the girl on the water.

“Yeah, I gathered that. So have you guys ever seen her before, or . . . ” I trailed off at Hades’ expression.

“No she’s really new.” Hades squinted his eyes against the setting sun.

“She appeared on the waves the day I sent for you,” Poseidon added.

“And you kept her out there? What’s wrong with you?” I demanded. I imagined spending two days in the ocean and shuddered.

“I’m not setting that thing loose in the world. If you can’t see the level of charisma she’s projecting, then I’ve severely overestimated your abilities.”

“She’s never seen another god with charisma,” Hades interjected. “There wasn’t an opportunity to teach her.”

“So she has charm.” I shrugged. “So do I, so does Zeus. What’s the problem?”

“She doesn’t just have charm.” Poseidon laughed. “That’s all she is. She’s a full deity, but from what I can tell, she came solely from Zeus, and charm is all he gave her. He gave her an obscene amount.” He went silent for a moment. “She wasn’t created here. She rose from the sea near Petra tou Romiou.”

Hades swore. I looked at him in confusion. “What does that mean?”

“It’s where Uranus fell,” Hades explained.

Poseidon nodded, looking grim. “The resting place of a fallen god is always rife with chaotic power. I think he used Uranus’ remains to help create her.”

“What would that do?” I asked.

“She has the potential to become more powerful than us,” Hades replied.

I realized what Hades meant, and my eyes widened. Uranus was Cronus’ father. Cronus and Rhea had created my mother, Hades, Poseidon, Hera, Hestia, and Zeus. With gods, every generation is less powerful than the last. If Zeus had imbued her with charm and created her from Uranus’ remains, there was no telling how much chaos she could wreak.

~@~

Aphrodite (Venus to the Romans) makes her first appearance in the sequel to Persephone, “Daughter of the Earth and Sky.” Unlike Persephone who really only plays a part in three major myths, Aphrodite has her hand in everything, which meant a ton of research on my part. That research led to a surprising discovery.

There are two Aphrodites! The first Aphrodite predates the Olympians. She was born after Cronus killed Uranus by severing his…. nether bits. The… foam, that rose from said nether bits became flesh and Aphrodite rose from the foam a full grown, beautiful goddess, and the furies rose from the blood in the water.

Isn’t Greek mythology just full of the loveliest imagery?

Anyway, that’s where the famous picture, “The Birth of Venus” comes from. That Aphrodite is the goddess of love of the body and soul.

The other Aphrodite was the daughter of Zeus and Dione. She was also pretty, but she was only the goddess of, well… sex.

Not surprisingly, it became very difficult to tell which goddess was being referred to in the myths, and eventually they became the same goddess to the uniformed listener. I had to figure out a way to be true to both versions of the goddess. She had to be Zeus’ daughter for my story to work, but I had him create her from the “remains” of Uranus. To explain why she’s pretty much only the goddess of love when most of the other gods are in charge of something a bit more tangible, I had Zeus give her charm, and charm alone.

In my series, charm is kind of like compulsion from the Vampire Diaries. That resemblance was not intentional. My series was written well before the show aired. BUT as a kid, I devoured that book series, so it probably was at the very least subconsciously inspired by it.

And here I thought I was so original. Meh, it’s not like supernatural beings being able to control the minds of humans is all that new of a concept.

Anyway, children of Zeus possess charm, or charisma. Controlled, it acts as a sort of mind control. Uncontrolled it could start things like the Trojan War. It triggers and amplifies whatever emotion the victim has toward the deity with the charm. Most deities come from two parents, so they have some other power or responsibility to balance out the charm. Aphrodite just has charm, so it’s very powerful, and everyone she sees has a reaction to her until she learns to get it under control.

Goddess of charm, goddess of love and beauty? It works.

Aphrodite has a part in many, many more myths, and I’ll do my best to cover them in future Mythology Mondays, because her role in the series is just starting.

Mythology Monday: Cronus

 

Cronus, Kronos, Chronos, Khronos, Father Time, Saturn, Greek mythology, TitanomachyGaia and Uranus had three sets of children: the giants, the Cyclopes, and the Titans. The titans were the more humanoid of the three, and among their number was the Titan of Time, Cronus (also known as Kronos, or Saturn, sort of also Chronos/Khronos, but that gets complicated).

Uranus was a terrible father. He tried to take the children from Gaia and imprison them. So she plotted with the Titans against Uranus. Gaia gave Cronus, the youngest of the Titans, a flint and a sickle to use against his father. Cronus fought Uranus and castrated him. His nether bits fell into the ocean and from their blood sprang the furies, from the foam came Aphrodite.

This act might have been where the name Titan came from. Kind of like how Trump brands everyone he doesn’t like with a  pejorative, Titans may have come from a source word that meant strained ones, but Hesiod is alone in that interpretation.

In some versions of the myth, it’s not Uranus that Cronus overthrew at all, but a serpent who was trying to devour the world called Ophion.

Whatever Cronus hit with that sickle, the imagery stuck. That sickle became Cronus’s calling card and made it into almost every image of Cronus ever produced. Because of that, he was frequently associated with the harvest and had an entire day dedicated to him around harvest time.

all the myths agree that the period of time when he ruled was called the Golden Age, because for a short time, there were no rules. Everyone just did the right thing because it was the right thing to do. Who “everyone” was is kind of unclear. Man shouldn’t have been around at this time, except in some versions of the myth they were. There were a lot of Titans, but a lot in the sense that it would be a crowded classroom, not a crowded school. It would have been a fairly manageable crowd given that he’d sent anyone who might even consider disagreeing with him, like the Giants and the Cyclopes, into Tartarus and ate any children who may decide to shake things up in the future.

Rhea and Cronus had five children before Rhea got tired of her babies getting devoured. When child number six was born, Rhea tricked Cronus and gave him a stone instead.

That child was Zeus.

Because Cronus ruled the earth and the sky, Zeus had to be suspended from the ground by a rope so he was never fully in either realm. He grew up this way and when the time was right, went against his father to avenge his siblings.

He managed to trick Cronus into drinking a potion that made him vomit up Zeus’s siblings. These children were Hera, Poseidon, Hades, Hestia, and Demeter. Zeus also freed the giants and the Cyclopes. Together, they fought Cronus and most of the remaining Titans and won and Zeus became god of Olympus.

Cronus and the Titans were cast into Tartarus, or possible a cave of Nyx, as punishment for their treatment of the Olympians.

Lifetimes later, Zeus released the Titans and made Cronus the king of Elysium. That’s still in the Underworld, so it’s not like he truly released them. Just relocated their prison to a nicer one.  Or if you’re Roman, he became a kind of supreme court judge, settling disputes amongst the gods.

Mythology Monday: The Furies

William-Adolphe Bouguereau (1825-1905) - The Remorse of Orestes (1862).jpg Public Domain. Greek mythology

The three Furies were horrible. They usually were shaped as crones,with snakes for hair, dog’s heads, coal-black bodies, bat’s wings, and bloodshot eyes. But because theywere older than Zeus, their powers were a mystery. It was also said they could assume beautiful formswhen it suited them. — The Immortal by Christopher Pike

The Furies, also called the Erinyes and for all intents and purposes  the Poinai (Poenae) (Retaliations), Arai (Arae) (Curses), Praxidikai (Praxidicae) (Exacters of Justice) and Maniai (Maniae)(Madnesses) (thank you theoi.com), were the three goddesses of vengeance. Victims of crimes often called down the curse of the Furies on criminals who hurt them.

They were terrifying looking. Depictions feature them as hideous women with wings and covered in poisonous serpents. The carried whips and dressed as either mourners or hunters. The best description I’ve ever read of them came from The Immortal by Christopher Pike.

The furies were born at the same time as Aphrodite. When Cronus castrated Uranus, Aphrodite was born from the “sea foam” that dripped into the sea and the furies were born from the blood. In other versions of the myths they’re daughters of Nyx and Erebus or Hades and Persephone. In other versions they aren’t goddesses at all, but a curse to be cast down on villains.

They were named in some version of the myth. Alecto, Megaera, and Tisiphone (who was also sometimes Demeter in horse form. Long story).

While they worked part time torturing souls in the Underworld, The Furies took delight in their job making living criminals miserable. Entire nations were brought to their knees for harboring their targets. Their wrath could only be stopped with a specific ritual and the completion of an assigned task. Failing that, and the Furies might haunt your family for generations.

At least until Orestes came along.

 

Mythology Monday: Acheron

 

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Charon rode into the steam made by the river of fire and the river of ice meeting in the marsh. “There’s the shore. I’m not picking up any souls right now,” he said, answering my unspoken question. “Though with you in here, they may come a bit more willingly.”

~@~

Acheron was either the son of  Helios and Gaea or Helios or Demeter. Prior to being a river, he was a minor god who made the mistake of providing the Titans with drinks during the Titanomachy. Zeus turned him into the river/lake of pain and sent him to the Underworld, where he became its principal river. Ascalaphus (the god who tricked Persephone into eating pomegranates) was, in some versions of mythology, his son.

Mythology Monday: Olympus

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 For the most part, Elysium was filled with the best of the souls. Those who had done great good in their lives. But it was also home to deceased deities. Olympus stood over the bright sunny fields and meadows. Most souls felt the vibrant purple mountain added beauty to the perfect landscape. I disagreed.

Olympus cut a dark shadow across perfection, serving as a reminder that there was no place untouched by evil in all of creation. I loathed Olympus. Everything changed the moment this mountain towered over my life. We had become what we’d worked so hard to defeat, perhaps not as bad as the Titans, but this mountain elevated us to gods, scowling down at all of creation.

Yet it was in my Underworld. The fall of Olympus had been the final harbinger of the death of the gods. I could have incinerated the blasted mountain the moment it came down or left it to rot in Demeter’s realm. But it meant something to them, and they’d lost enough.

Gods, nymphs, and dozens of other extinct creatures stopped what they were doing to watch me approach the palace. I didn’t come here often. Still, I didn’t hesitate when I walked through the columns. This was my realm.

“Wow, two visits in one century.” Hera moved between the sand-colored columns with an inhuman grace. There were no walls here, only columns stretching an impossible distance into the air, holding up a very tall, very flat slab of stone ceiling. It couldn’t have been more different from my palace. That wasn’t a coincidence.

“I’m almost flattered.” Hera’s curly brown hair was piled on the top of her head in an archaic Roman style. She wore a violet chiton. I hadn’t seen one of those shift-like dresses since the hydra still plagued Ancient Greece. Some people didn’t know how to move on.

“Thinks the man in the cape.” Hera let out a throaty chuckle at my surprised look. “I can always tell what you’re thinking, Hades. Such an open book.”

“You’re the only one who ever thought so.” I sat on one of the tall backless couches.

Her lips turned up in a mysterious smile. “Maybe it’s not so much an open book as a mirror. Perhaps we’re both just damaged beyond repair.” She sat beside me on the couch, fingers trailing over the narrow strip of white upholstery between us. “What can I do for you?”

“Your husband has taken my wife. Do you have any idea where?”

She tilted her head and put a hand on my shoulder. “Poor Hades, will you ever find someone who deserves you?”

I removed her hand from my shoulder with a bit more force than necessary. “It wasn’t consensual.”

“Isn’t that your working theory on what happened to me? That I was charmed.” Her gray eyes bored into mine. “You want so badly for me to be a victim. Did you ever stop and wonder if maybe I just don’t love you?”

I ignored her use of the present tense. “At the time it was easier to assume you weren’t an opportunistic bitch,” I replied calmly. “I’m not here about you. I’m trying to find her, and you haven’t answered my question.”

“Do you love her?” Jealousy flamed to life in Hera’s eyes.

“Exclusively. You still haven’t answered me. Where would Zeus keep her?”

She kept her gaze locked with mine as though she were trying to unnerve me with her proximity. “What makes you think I would know?”

I took a measured breath. What I wanted to do was threaten to throw her into Tartarus until she remembered how to answer questions. But Hera fed on anger like most people breathe air. If I snapped, she’d be in control. Hera had controlled enough of my life.

“You were many things, Hera, but oblivious was never one of them.”

Hera’s gaze went hard. “Zeus and I didn’t exactly have pillow talks. If you’ll recall, he sucked the life from me and threw me down a mountain the moment I outlived my usefulness.”

“What I recall is you bringing down the mountain with you and single handedly ending the era of Olympus.”

Hera’s eyebrows rose and her lips pursed into an “O” shape.

“What?” I asked. “You thought it escaped my notice that Olympus’ fall coincided with your demise? I was around when you created this abomination. I remembered some of your . . . unusual design flaws. You’re the one who did all the marketing, too. When the mortals saw Olympus fall, they thought it meant the gods had died. So the gods did.”

“You’ve always paid entirely too much attention to me.”

~@~

Olympus is a mountain in Macedonia Greece that was believed to be the home of the gods. According to the Iliad, it looked a lot like the Acropolis. It had large, golden gates  guarded by the three goddesses of the seasons, the Horae. It had a massive palace for Zeus, lesser palaces for the gods, and amazing stables for the immortal horses (some of whom were sometimes gods in horse shape, I can only assume). The peak of themountain functioned as Zeus’s throne, and the Muses lived in the northern foot of the mountains.

An interesting point of note: inside the palace there were a lot of automatons (animated metal statues, like robots only they predate robots so they were magic and sometimes sentient) made by Hephaestus.

The mountain may or may not have been named for a giant named Olympus who, depending on the myth, may or may not have been responsible for raising young Zeus.

In my version of the story, the actual Mount Olympus crumbled, palace and all (thus solving the conundrum in the meme presented above) and people lost faith in the gods. The Mount Olympus in Greece today is just another mountain in the range that was close enough in size and location for people generations later decide it was the one featured in mythology.

The Styx

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I peered closely at the River Styx. In the center was a small island of trees. I could just barely see a long wooden canoe-like boat gliding around the island.

~@~

The Styx, (river/goddess of hate) is both a river and a goddess in Greek mythology. Primordials were confusing like that. In Goddess form, she was a nymph who lived in a  grotto with silver columns near the entrance of Hades (the realm, not the deity). In river form, she’s winds around the Underworld seven times.

Depending on which version of the mythology you choose to follow, Styx is either the daughter of Erebus and Nyx or the daughter of Tethys and Oceanus. She married Pallas and had four to five children (Zeluz, Nike, Kratos,  Bia, and sometimes Eos). She had a rather tragic love story involving the river of fire (Phlegethon). They were in love, but eternally separated. So in the Underworld, one flows into the other so they can always be together. This results in a steam-filled, marshy atmosphere in the Underworld.

In the titanomachy, Styx rushed to Zeus’s aid. Thus she and her children were spared the forced relocation of the elder gods. She also became the binding oath the gods swore by. A swear by the Styx can not be undone.

Her water was rumored to have healing properties. Achilles was dipped into the Styx as a child, and all but the bit of ankle his mother held him by proved to be invulnerable. Her waters were also very destructive. Stygian water (water from the Styx) and sulfur could destroy plants and animals. All divine weapons and cool stuff were forged from Stygian metal.

She connects to the Persephone myth in some versions as well as one of the nymphs who were playing with Persephone in the meadow, along the river, on the day she was abducted.

 

 

 

 

 

Mythology Monday: Zeus

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I legitimately cannot believe I haven’t written a mythology Monday on Zeus yet.

Wow, where to even start. Okay, first you’ll need some background on creation and the Titanomachy. 

Zeus’s father, Cronus, was terrified that his children were going to be the death of him. So he would eat his children as soon as his wife, Rhea gave birth. Why continue to have children then? In my world, I had a hard time imagining that the gods themselves couldn’t control whether or not they became pregnant, at least when it came to hooking up with each other, so I built in a different explanation.

The gods had to pass on bits of their powers when their powers became too much for them. Zeus didn’t just have a ton of kids because he loved sleeping around (though that did factor in), he had an obscene amount of worship fueling his power. I’m sure the god king before him did as well.

But Rhea was not a fan of her husband eating her children. Rather than putting her foot down and just saying no, she put the fate of her previously eaten children in the hands of an infant. When Chaos got ready to eat Zeus, Rhea tricked him into eating a rock instead. (It is revealed in Aphrodite that Rhea was the first god to use charm).

Zeus was given to the last unicorn Amalthea the goat or possibly nymph depending on the version of the myth you ascribe to,  to raise on Mt. Dikte, but there are a lot of variations on how he was kept out of Cronus’s awareness. Some versions of the myth say he was hung, suspended from a tree, neither touching the earth nor sky. His cries were covered by the warrior Curetes, banging his shield in a dance.

Upon coming of age, Zeus created a shield from Amalthea’s hide and a magical horn of plenty from her horn. He also enlisted the aid of a Titan named Metis to force Cronus to throw up his older siblings, enlisted those siblings with his far, freed the six giant-sons of Heaven from the pit of Tartaros, and enlisted the aid of the Cyclopes (who armed him with lightning-bolts)  and the Hekatonkheires (Hundred-Handed) who aided him in his assault on the Titanes with volleys of thrown boulders (theoi.com). The Titans were locked into Tartarus and the Olympian siblings divided up the cosmos. Some Titans did side with the Olympians in the war, which is why they pop up in later myths, and the alliance with the monsters didn’t last long (see Gigantomachy).

The gods created man, and Zeus went on to have many children and take an active role in almost every other myth in the mythos for Greek Mythology. As far as children went, there were some changes I made in my story. Athena’s mother is in fact Metis (remember her from a few paragraphs ago?) whom Zeus ate when he discovered she was pregnant, because he also feared his children would destroy him. In some versions of the myth, Ares was created solely by Hera when she touched a flower provided by Flora. Neither one of those was mentioned in my books because A. Ares has to have charm, the plot demands it ((which in that case means I’m just choosing a different interpretation of the myth), and B. Athena is a minor character, and none of the POV characters who ever interact with her would know the whole story of her birth. (Hades was in the Underworld, Persephone wasn’t born, and Aphrodite only knows what the gods passed on through the bloodlines, and I can totally see Hera leaving that out.) Athena plays things pretty close to the vest and is unlikely to ever bring up anything irrelevant to the conversation.

Powers wise, Zeus has lightning bolts (in mythology, these were crafted and given to him by either the cyclopses or Heph, but in my version, he’s just got control over storms because sometimes the myths threw that in). He was Lord of the skies, and in my version, he has charm. Charm is entirely made up by me in this context, but mythologically it fixes a ton of plot holes for Zeus to have mind control powers, so it fits really well.

In my story, Zeus went on to rule much as he did in mythology until the fall of Olympus, at which point he went underground and started plotting. I’ll do a master post on Zeus’s children at some point in the coming weeks. But that’s Zeus in a nutshell.

Friendly reminder! Aphrodite is on sale for .99 cents!

 

 

 

Mythology Monday: Apollo

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“Quite a bit,” Demeter replied. “We were wondering if we could speak with . . . ” She hesitated like she couldn’t bring herself to say it. “…Mr. Sunshine, please.”

Really? I thought, unable to suppress a groan. Oh, Apollo was never going to live this down.

The group of kids exchanged a glance. “He doesn’t usually talk to old folks, man. Sorry.”

Demeter’s mouth dropped open. “Old . . . people. Uh . . . I see.”

I didn’t. Physically, all the gods stopped aging at the end of maturity, so we didn’t look older than twenty-five unless we wanted to. How were we considered old compared to him? I looked down at the deep maroon carpet flecked with pieces of grass and sighed. Good gods. I missed the Underworld.

“Why don’t you tell him his Aunt Ceres is here and see what he says,” Demeter suggested.

“Yo, Mr. Sunshine!” one of the youths called, running down the hall to an office with yet another beaded curtain. “Your Great-Aunt Sarah is here.”

A vein in Demeter’s forehead twitched, and I smiled despite myself. It was nice to see Demeter knocked off her pedestal. Even by these creatures.

Apollo tore out of the office so fast he got tangled in the beaded curtain and ripped it down in his haste to get free. My eyes narrowed when I took him in. His matted red hair was cut short, he had a scruff of a beard beginning on his face, and he wore clothes with holes and patches on them.

“Why does he look homeless?” I murmured.

Demeter shook her head. “Not homeless, ironic.”

Oh good gods.

“Demeter!” Apollo managed to get mostly untangled from the curtain and moved forward in jerky motions while he tried to shake it off his foot.

“I let you live in my realm after the fall, and this is how you repay me?” Demeter’s eyes blazed. She looked around, like she was considering moving to a more quiet location, then dismissed Apollo’s inebriated followers with a snort. “You started your own cult.”

“I meant to send tribute, throw your name in services every now and then, I just get so . . . distracted.”

As if to underscore his point, a half-naked girl peeked her head out the office door. “Mr. Sunshine? Are you coming back?”

“Uh . . . not right now.”

A chorus of disappointed wails rose from the office, and my eyebrows shot up.

Apollo’s face turned beet red and he closed his eyes, took a deep breath, then cracked one eye open as if hoping we wouldn’t be there.

“I see.” Demeter’s voice was like ice. “You think you can poach my followers.”

“There are seven billion people on this planet. You can’t have them all!” Apollo protested. Demeter compressed her lips into a thin white line, and he stammered an apology. When he noticed me, his face drained of color. “Aw shit, Demeter. There was no reason to get him involved. I’ll mention your name every harvest, I promise. I’ve got some girls—erm . . . priestesses, I mean, I can send your way. Don’t make me go to the Underworld.”

“Harvest?” Demeter demanded. “What harvest?”

I held up my hands in a placating gesture. “No, you’re welcome to live forever as far as I’m concerned. No need to come to my realm. Ever.”

“How many priestesses do you want?” Apollo asked Demeter. “Hey girls?” He called a little louder.

“Yes, Mr. Sunshine?” The girls emerged from the office in various stages of undress.

“Oh please, don’t bother.” Demeter had a look on her face like she’d like to remove her eyes and scour them with bleach. “There’s more important things going on right now, and as it just so happens, you owe me.”

Demeter explained what was going on with Zeus, and Apollo turned even paler.

“Uh, yeah, that sucks about your kid and all, but that isn’t really my scene. I’m a lover not a fighter, and uh—”

Demeter walked up to him until they were standing nose to nose. “Do you like living in my realm?”

Apollo nodded.

“Do you want to continue?”

He nodded again.

“Then you’d best come with us.” When Apollo nodded again, Demeter wrinkled her nose and touched her fingertips to him, establishing the bare minimum of contact to teleport. She reached behind her to grab my hand, and we disappeared in a flash.

~@~

Apollo is the god of prophecy and oracles, music, song and poetry, archery, healing, plague and disease, and the protection of the young. He’s also frequently depicted as a sun god, though that’s technically Helios’s role.

Apollo, and his twin sister, Artemis are children of Zeus, but their mother is Leto. Hera tried to prevent their birth and failed when the floating isle of Delos took them in and allowed Leto to give birth.

The twins were complete opposites, however they were both archers. Apollo’s most notable kill was a giant Python that had set up shop where he wanted to create a shrine.  He also protected his mom by giving a Titan who tried to carry her off the Prometheus treatment, and killed Niobe’s daughters when Niobe claimed to be as beautiful as Leto, and he killed a Cyclops who assisted in the killing of Apollo’s son Asclepius (you know him as the reaper, Zachary). He was also a major player in the Trojan War.

Apollo might have been a mother’s boy and the golden child of Olympus, but he was also a major dick. When Cassandra wouldn’t sleep with him, he cursed her with visions of the future that no one would believe. Daphne narrowly escaped the same fate by turning herself into a laurel tree, as did several other men and women Apollo pursued. He entered a music contest with a satyr, and flayed him alive when he lost. Fun fact, he’s also the reason crows are black (they used to be white).

Apollo pops up all over the place in Greek mythology. There’s tons to explore there. If you want to learn more about him, click here.

Mythology Monday: Janus

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“Life isn’t fair! Why should death be any different?”

“Did you ever stop and wonder if maybe that attitude is why the gods are dead?” I asked. “People don’t believe in gods because they can’t wrap their minds around the idea of someone allowing all the terrible things in the world to happen.”

“Reality has teeth and claws. It’s rarely pretty and never fair. Haven’t you figured that out yet?”

I clenched my fists. “Why? I get that no one has the power to interfere now, but when the gods were in power, how could they let things get this bad? You’re here every day! You hear the stories of murder, thievery, and worse. You see the children who starved to death. This isn’t a recent development. Why didn’t you stop it?”

“We gave humans free will—”

“That’s bull!” I exploded. “If you have the power to stop someone from getting killed and don’t, you’re just as guilty as whoever pulled the trigger.”

“Where do you draw that line, Persephone? There are billions of humans, and a handful of us—”

“Who allowed humans to get to the billions? That was greed, plain and simple. More humans equaled more worship. And really, between the God of Mist, and the God of Doorways, and the god of every other useless thing, you couldn’t at least try?”

“You’re angry. I understand. You didn’t see this side of the world back in your flower shop. Your mother kept you sheltered. It’s a bit of a shock at first, but—”

“But what? Over time I’ll get used to it? Used to seeing children in the court of the dead? Used to watching husbands cry over lost wives? Why should I get used to it when I can do something about it?”

“You can’t save everyone. You just don’t have that power.”

“But you did! You each had the power to grant immortality!” I threw my hands in the air. “Why were only some people given the gift? My mother has the power to make things grow anywhere. How come people are still starving? Are you all so full of yourselves that you think you’re any more deserving of these gifts than any one of those humans?”

~@~

Persephone makes a brief reference to Janus, the Roman God of Doorways. Like the God of Mist and the God of Fog, she’s wrong to write Janus off as a minor deity. Janus/Jana was actually two gods, hence the two heads, and was worshiped as everything from the sun, the moon, to the space between passages, i.e. doorways, beginnings, endings, transitions, war, peace, birth, death, traveling, the list goes on and on because if something has a distinct beginning, end, and transition between the two, Janus presides over it. Thematically, Janus is important in Persephone as a coming of age novel.

For a long, long time they were regarded as the highest of gods and got dibs on all the sacrifices, like Hestia. Janus has two faces, one to look in the future, one the past. In this regard, they are similar to the Greek Fates, but there was no Greek equivalent to Janus in its entirety, though Greek mythologists played around with the idea of Janus in their own stories later.

Janus may have fathered some children, but a lot of those stories are Greek additions to his mythology. He’s an interesting conundrum in Roman mythology as his role touches on/overlaps the roles of so many gods in the Pantheon. Popular theory is that Janus either predates the Roman Pantheon all together or was developed in an isolated bit of the culture and later worked into the mythology.

I’m not even going to try to get into the myths regarding Janus, because there’s a lot of discussion/argument about whether the god playing the role of Janus in any given myth was him, or if his name was stuck in as a replacement or a straight up mistake in translation/assumption. (Janus for instance has nothing to do with the month of January, though for a long time scholars thought that was the case).

In mythology, Janus is complex and fascinating, and I encourage you to read more about him.