FAQ Friday: Dialect

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All the gods we meet in Persephone except the titular character are ancient beings who have been around ever since the dawn of time. So I’ve had some readers ask why they speak with a modern dialect.

There’s two reasons for that:

First, linguistically, it wouldn’t make sense for their speech patterns to get stuck in the past. Language is dynamic and ever changing. Not just on a global level, but on a personal one. If you hear a certain word every day for months on end, chances are it will assimilate into your vocabulary. That’s just how people work. The younger you are, the faster the assimilation because there are peak times for learning language in people’s lives, right?

Every piece of my gods stop aging/are created at their peak. That means their language assimilation is at the absolute best it’s going to be 100% of the time. They are going to adapt to the dialect surrounding them fast and consistently. They may occasionally throw an old-timey phrase in there, but because it’s not likely to be in their ready vocabulary, they’d have to be making a conscious effort. They absolutely can code switch, and do in my books depending on who they are speaking to. But even if they weren’t magical beings with fluid intelligence, even if they were completely typical humans who just so happened to be immortal, they may struggle with language barriers, but their dialect would evolve daily.

Secondly, the gods themselves are universal translators. People hear them in their native tongue. Now, hearing someone in your native tongue doesn’t do you much good if you’re hearing them in an archaic version of your native tongue. Ask anyone who has read the Canterbury Tales as it was originally written. That’s English, yet we still have a translated version of it for modern readers. Persephone is a sixteen year old girl who was raised human. So she’s going to hear the gods in her native tongue.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Is Persephone brave?

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Persephone is called brave twice in the entirety of the Persephone trilogy, and only once by Hades. But it made quite an impression on the goddess (as I’m sure being called brave by the Lord of the Underworld would.) She immediately denies it, thinks about it for two books, and denies it again.

“You’re strong and brave. More than you know. You stood and fought in Tartarus.”

I shook my head. “I’m not brave. I’m just stupid. When something scary or bad happens, my mind shuts off and I act. Believe me, later, when it has time to process, I’m terrified.”

Their difference of opinion here has to do with the definition of brave. To her, it means not being afraid, which some of my readers agree with. Since Persephone quakes in fear and cries after the fact, to them she’s not brave. That’s a matter of opinion, and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

To Hades, being brave means moving forward despite your fear. Which means you can’t possibly be brave in the absence of fear.Persephone  was scared of Pirithous and stabbed him with a pencil, when she stood up against Hades in the clearing, when she stood up to Hades in the Underworld, when she learned self-defense, when she opened her mind on purpose to Boreas’s dreamwalking after Melissa was taken. When she faced Pirithous in the Underworld, and finally when she faced Pirithous in the end. She was scared, and while internally she may have quaked, and while she cried, and shivered, and sometimes whined after the fact, she took her fear and pushed it aside moment by moment, often at the risk of her own life. These aren’t always reactive situations either. She makes plans to do something scary from a place of relative safety and implements them in moments of danger throughout the trilogy.

Many readers agree with Hades’s definition. That’s a matter of opinion and is open to reader interpretation. Those readers are not why this is a frequently asked question.

This is a frequently asked question because Persephone can’t lie, so when she says “I’m not brave,” it’s not false modesty, she absolutely does not believe bravery is one of her traits.

The whole not being able to lie thing gets complicated when the gods start talking in absolutes. She doesn’t say “I don’t think I’m brave.” She says she’s not. Period. And to her, that is true, but her truths don’t dictate other people’s opinions. So reader’s (and Hades’) opinions are still valid here, because she’s not talking about something steeped in fact. It’s not “Does 2 +2 = 4?” It’s “Does that equation look pretty?” A god can answer in an absolute to that question, because to them it either does or doesn’t. That is their truth.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Why doesn’t Persephone recognize references to herself?

If Persephone is learning mythology, why doesn’t she recognize references to herself in the myths she’s learning about in school?

Because Persephone lives in an alternate universe where the myths are still unfolding. There IS no Persephone in mythology yet. She’s THE Persephone. Not a reincarnation, not a cyclical version of herself trapped in a recurring myth. There has never been a Persephone before her that had any mythological relevance and there won’t be one after her. That’s also why she doesn’t recognize Orpheus’s name or many of the other names of famous mythological figures she encounters. She recognizes the name Demeter, but she thought the name of her mother’s flower shop was just a play on the ancient goddess as Demeter doesn’t go by Demeter in the modern day (literally no other character that wasn’t a god ever referred to her by name, so I didn’t have a chance to explain that without it seeming info dumpy until she introduces herself to one of Apollo’s priestesses in book 3).

I tried to show that Persephone is set in a previously Persephone-less world by opening with her teaching talking about THE myth that’s used to explain the origin of Winter. In our society, that myth is the Persephone myth. In this one it’s not. They used a similar (and yes, existing. Boreas and Oreithyia are mythology figures and that is their story even outside the world of my book) myth. That’s the myth that school children everywhere learn instead of the Persephone one. Because there is no Persephone one. It hasn’t happened yet.

 

 

FAQ Friday: Roman VS Latin Names

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Why is a Professor teaching a group of high school students, and shouldn’t he be using using the Roman names since it’s a Latin class?

Professor Homer is modeled after two of my high school teachers, a certain professor (and that title was a matter of pride to him, so we did use it despite being a high school) and my Latin teacher. My Latin teacher was the sweetest old man you’d ever meet, and he felt it was important to distinguish between Roman and Greek deities. Minerva is not just Athena with a different name. She’s an entirely different god. There’s tons of similarities between them in the same way there’s a ton of similarities between Samhain and Halloween. There are enough differences distinguish between the two holidays just like there are enough differences to distinguish between the two gods.

**I do need to add that while they are different gods, even within their own specific culture they could be worshiped for different roles by making slight variations on the name. So the blending of the gods worked very well because both cultures believed that there were many different aspects to each god. Add that to the oral tradition and the far flung reach of each deities worshipers, and you get some major variations in personality and sequence/existence of events.**

Anyway, I decided to take the same approach my Latin teacher did with my stories by sticking with the spellings of the version of the myth that inspired me most. Professor Homer only tells one myth in the entire series, and that’s the abduction of Oreithyia. The earliest myth of Boreas and Oreithyia I could find was from one of the Simonides fragments (534 to be specific) and it features an Athenian Princess, so to me it made sense for him to stick with the Greek names.

However, if it makes you feel better about him as an educator, he did go over the proper Roman names and roles at the beginning of class. The story just picks up after that classroom lecture.