Mythology Monday: Athena

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“He could know something useful that could save time, possibly even save lives,” Athena argued. “Despite your low opinion of me, I take no joy in my creation’s sufferings. But it must be done. The demigods made their stance clear when they relocated the island. That wasn’t an exchange you witnessed, it was a coup. We have a window of instability when we can strike, but it is rapidly closing. The time for deliberation is at an end.”

Spending this much time with the Pantheon was skewing my perspective. I couldn’t afford to start thinking like them. “Hades would wait. My mother—” my voice caught, but I cleared my throat with a harsh cough and soldiered on “—would have waited.” Not forever. I wasn’t that naïve, but they’d give it some time. Just in case.

“Yes, they would wait.” Athena crossed her legs and plucked an imaginary piece of lint off her tan slacks. “Because they’re cowards. I had better hopes for you, but I see I was mistaken.”

“You want to talk cowardice?” I snorted. “What do you call forcing a teenage girl to fight your battles for you? Sorry, no. You lost the right to complain about me being inexperienced or naïve or whatever the hell else you think you’re insulting me with the second you voted to use me instead of stepping up. You will damn well take me as I am.”

Athena opened her mouth to argue, but I railroaded right over her.

“Oh, and you don’t get to claim sympathy for ‘your creations,’ either.” I put her phrase in air quotes. “Not when you enabled the monster tormenting them for centuries because it benefitted you. That is why we’re in this mess right now. You know that, don’t you? Because you didn’t care about what Zeus was doing until it threatened you. You joined in. I know all the stories, all the facts. The things you did to people just because you could. It is no wonder they want us all dead. My mother wasn’t perfect, but at least she didn’t participate. Hades either.”

“We didn’t all have the luxury of disappearing into our own realms! Some of us had to live with him.” Athena snapped to her feet, almost tripping over the floral rug in front of the couch. Her voice cracked with more emotion than I’d ever heard from her, but no power accompanied the outburst. The air didn’t charge or shift or smell of a stuffy old library or whatever her power signature would taste like.

For a moment, I admired her self-control, then I realized that self-control had nothing to do with it. Athena didn’t have to struggle to hold her powers back, because she barely had enough to get by. I kept letting myself forget how much stronger I was.

“We had to live with him,” Athena continued, her voice thick. “Day in and day out, whispering in our ears, telling us how the world owed us. Telling us how much the humans hated us, despised us, didn’t respect us enough. Driving us to action. People worshipped us, sacrificed to us, prayed to us, deferred to us. And we drank it in like wine. Zeus was a psychopath, but everyone who disagreed with him sat upon their high horses, judging us for living in the only world we’d ever known.

“You think you’d be any different? You think there’s nothing you’d look back upon and regret? Wait a few generations, infant. Wait until time and values have shifted. Wait until some child looks at you with judgment in their eyes and asks how you could have done that, thought that, allowed that.”

I lifted my chin, glaring at her. She knew nothing about me. Nothing about what I regretted. What I would or wouldn’t do.

Athena gave a bitter laugh at my expression. “Time marches on, even for us immortals. The world is ever-changing. One day, you’ll grow old enough to look back and wonder how you could ever have been such a monster for something you wouldn’t think twice about now. And you’ll have two choices. Cling to your outdated beliefs or change. But what you cannot do is go back and reverse the damage you’ve done. No matter how much you wish to.” Her gray eyes met mine. “Move on. I know you hate me and everything I stand for. I don’t blame you. But we are all in this mess together, and we are never going to get out of it unless you listen to someone other than yourself.”

~@~

Athena is possibly the best example in mythology of when religions absorbing each other does not work. She, and her Roman counterpart Minerva, are two entirely different goddesses with different strengths, weaknesses, and personalities.

Athena is best known as The Goddess of Wisdom, but that’s only because as her ancient myths were was absorbed and modernized into more patriarchal societies, they downplayed some of her biggest strengths.

Athena was the Virgin goddess of War. That’s why she carried a shield and spear. She was also the goddess of  defense; heroic endeavors’ protector of agriculture, science, and industry; good council; weaving, pottery, and other crafts; and women’s work. Three guesses why you only hear about the latter half of her equation.

Athena was born fighting. Zeus was terrified to have children after what he did to his parents, so when he learned from Athena’s mother, Metis (her mother is Metis in my mythology as well, but since this was early in Hera and Zeus’s relationship, Hera pretended that she was hers to preserve her reputation as the goddess of marriage. She got over that eventually), that she was on the way, he ate Athena before she could be born. But Athena was too strong willed so she burst out of Zeus’s cranium in the world’s worst migraine, and demanded her place among the Olympians.

An alternate version of the myth makes her the daughter of the Winged Giant Pallas, whom she immediately killed for attempting to rape her. She striped him of his skin and attached his wings to her feet for speed.

Less frequently, she’s a daughter of Poseidon or Triton or Tritonis who got tired of being their daughter and asked to be adopted by Zeus.

She played a pivotal role in the creation of man and in most heroes journeys, including The Odyssey , Jason and The Argonauts, and The Twelve Labors of Hercules, and the creation of Medusa. She and Poseidon fought bitterly over the naming of the city of Athens. She won naming rights by creating an olive tree and a horse. She fought admirably in the war of the giants, and fought off an attempted rape from Hephaestus. She blindest the prophet Teiresias for daring to look upon her while bathing, and she played huge part in The Trojan War by siding with the Greeks in battle, then attacking their ships with a storm when they failed to punish Ajax for violating her Trojan shrine (though in most retellings, her role is reduced to the Divine Beauty Contest).

She did all of that and so much more. She’s a super prominent figure in Greek Mythology, but I bet I can guess which myth you’ve heard her featured in most.

The weaving contest. The story goes that Arachne was a talented young weaver who dared to brag that her skills rivaled even Athena’s. Athena challenged her to a weaving contest, sometimes in disguise (Athena really enjoyed disguises), sometimes not. Depending on the story she won or lost but the outcome is the same. She was so offended at Arachne’s claim, that she cursed her by turning her into a spider so she and her descended could weave their webs for all eternity.

Because of this combination of myths and personalities, Athena comes across as a bit bi-polar. One moment, she’s the goddess of wisdom, perfectly rational and calm. The next she’s flying off the handle, cursing people into God-Killing-Monsters and arranging epic quests to clean up her mess.

Fortunately, this works for my universe where every god is their own foil. Persephone, goddess of spring, fears change. Ares, god of war, is a pacifist, Aphrodite, goddess of love, doesn’t understand relationships, and Athena, goddess of wisdom, is rash and impulsive.

In my universe, Athena is an adult goddess (not a teen like Persephone and Aphrodite), who works at The University of Georgia as a professor in psychology. She’s asexual and Machiavellian to the extreme. She and Persephone got off on the wrong foot and are constantly at odds with one another, but she and Aphrodite understand one another on a very deep level. She’s integral to the Pantheon, and as the series progresses, she and Persephone are forced to work together more and more.

Mythology Monday: Asclepius

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I shook my head. “Put Zachary in charge of Reaping. You can trust him. If we can find two, maybe three other souls we can trust on the surface, I think they can handle it.”

“Zachary?” Hades gave me a quizzical look.

“Asclepius’ new persona,” Cassandra explained.

“What makes you think you can trust him?” Charon gave me a surprised look.

“He helped me when the Reapers were attacking me. And he never had to be charmed. He swore fealty on his own. Who’s Asclepius?”

“He swore fealty? To you?” Hades’ eyebrows shot up. “Well . . . okay then. You’ll still have to try to charm him, but if you say he’s trustworthy . . . ”

“Who is he?” I asked again.

“He’s the first Reaper.” Hades was talking fast, indicating we needed to move on from this conversation. “He was a god of healing, and he tried to stop death. That violated the rules of nature We put into place. Rather than changing the nature of the dead, it changed him.”

The way he said “We” emphasized the capital letter, and I understood he was talking about my mother, Zeus, and the rest of the original six. When they created the world, they’d all agreed on its natural laws. Earth and all its inhabitants formed a complex system involving all their powers. To protect their creation, they’d even given up the ability to lie. Words had power; the wrong words could unintentionally change the nature of something. I’d never considered the ramifications of a god intentionally trying to change the rules.

I felt sick. Poor Zachary. He’d tried to stop death and become its first agent.

~@~

Asclepius (to cut open) was the mortal son of Apollo and a princess named Koronis. Unfortunately, his mother died during childbirth (for was murdered for being unfaithful to Apollo, myths vary), so his father had to cut him from her body (hence the name). His mother was placed among the stars (The Crow constellation).

The demigod was then placed into Chiron’s care and taught medicine. Chiron taught him all he knew, but Asclepius also learned medicine from snakes whispering in his ears. Snakes are sacred to medicine to ancient Greeks, so the demigod grew so skilled that he figured out how to stop death and restore the sick back to life. Unfortunately, Zeus was very against the idea of immortal man, so citing fear of overpopulation, he killed Asclepius’s with a lightning bolt. Other myths claim he was killed for bringing back a specific person (Hippolytus).

The gods honored the fallen demigod with the constellation Ophiochus (the serpent holder), and performed apotheosis to turn him into a god so he could continue to be their doctor.

In most vases and paintings, Asclepius looks like an old, bearded man holding the staff with a snake around it that you’ll see in so many hospitals. (He was kind of a big deal in medical circles).

Asclepius participated in the Calydonian Boar Hunt at some point. He also married  Epione, the goddess of soothing pain, and had five daughters (Hygieia, the goddess of health;  Panacea, the goddess of universal remedy;  Aceso, the goddess of recuperation; Iaso, the goddess of healing, and Aglaea, the goddess of beauty) and three sons (Machaon, Podaleirios and Telesphoros). He may have also had a son named Aratus, with a woman named Aristodama. More on them in a minute

In my universe, he wasn’t turned into a god, because let’s face it, that’s uncharacteristically kind of the gods. He was turned into the first reaper. Now instead of healing people, he releases souls. You’ve met him in the Persephone trilogy as the reaper, Zachary.

 

FAQ Friday: Where can I buy Persephone?

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 buy Persephone in format/language/country/for free.

I get variations on this question a lot and for obvious reasons, I am all too happy to answer.

First, some links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Audible | Goodreads and many, many more.

Persephone is available in print, all the major electronic formats, and as an audiobook narrated by yours truly. Print wise, you can order it wherever books are sold, but unless you happen to live in Athens, Georgia, the odds of you walking in and seeing it on a shelf are slim, so you will have to special order it.

Internationally, Persephone is available through Amazon and to my knowledge Amazon alone. It is at this point in time only available in English.

Audiobook wise, Persephone is available on audible,itunes, and good ol’ amazon.

Persephone occasionally goes on sale for .99 cents, but my publisher has not yet offered it for free. As far as I know, they have no plans to.  If really, really, really want to read my book, but can’t afford it even on sale (trust me, I feel your pain. I have lived in the red) the best suggestion I can offer is your local library. If they don’t have a copy and you request it, chances are they will buy more than one of copy, so not only do you get it free, but it also helps me in terms of sales and exposure. We both win. My books are all available on overdrive, so if your library offers eBooks, there’s a good chance they already have it in an electronic format or can easily obtain it via request. You can even request the audio version. If you’re asking for my recommendation for a good pirate site, let me tell you three quick things.

  1.  While I am truly flattered that you want to read my book enough to commit theft, I’m not J.K Rowling (not that she deserves to be robbed either). I need every penny of my royalties to scrape by.
  2. I have it on good authority from the many, many, many readers who have emailed me complaining their stolen copy of my book infected their computer, that a good chunk of those pirate sites claiming to have my book are bad news.
  3.  When real copies of my book go up, they are pretty quickly taken down, and they stay down for one very important reason. My publisher takes piracy very, very seriously. When they see their products being stolen, they act on it beyond just sending take down notices.

 

I have an E.d.S in School Library Media, so accessibility is very important to me. If you cannot obtain a copy of my book for any reason at all, email me using the contact me form on this website. I’ll see what I can do.