YOLO for Apollo!

YOLO for Apollo!

It has almost been a year since I last posted about the juicy gossips of the ancient Greek Gods, their passions and adventures. As the title indicates, we will not focus on Zeus’ pants today but on Apollo’s adventures and the grace of his so-called perfection.

Apollo (Απόλλων) was not one of the first Olympic God and the mortals’ perspective of him was close to that of the ideal god, the one with the least human imperfections than the rest of the Gods. Besides, Apollo was what every Greek wished to be; Handsome, but with a manly stature but likeable all the while, strong, brave, artful, as well as prudent, equally experiences with science, beauty, pleasures and the arts, and just to his friendships, barely tender to his loved ones and so secluded to his personal freedom that he could never bare the marital burden.

He was the son of Zeus and Lito (Λητώ) (insert Zeus’ pants comment here) and was said to be born in the island of Dilos (Δήλος), which was protected by Poseidon as it was covered with waves and hidden from sunlight. Apollo’s mother gave birth to him there because of Hera’s curse, which was that the mortal mother not give birth but to a place with no sunlight. How ironic that Apollo is also the God of light, of sun and of knowledge though he was born under the waves and hidden from the sun and its warmth.

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To the point now, his love adventures and passions of pleasure.
Apollo was famous for his adventures with both Goddesses as well as mortals, all great figures of beauty. To begin with, the Goddess Estia (Εστία) refused his passions and swore to Zeus eternal virginity. There are myths that Apollo even went after his twin sister, Artemis, and that the attack was committed next to her own temple in Dilos (insert Lannister joke here). Then there was the muse Kalliopi (Καλλιόπη) and the list goes on and on….

The one I liked is that of Daphne, who rejected all men’s proposals and was very free-spirited in general. Leucippus though, driven by his pure love for the nymph let his hair grow long, wore women’s garments and earned her friendship. However, Apollo had already set his eyes on the woman so he tried to reveal Leucippus secret and draw him away from her. Soon, the God persuaded the woman to invite all her friends to go for a swim at the river Lathona. Leucippus, unable to explain his refusal to the invitation was forced to reveal himself and his sex. Of course, they instantly killed him.  His rival now gone, Apollo chased after Daphne who ran to save herself. Once Apollo caught up to her and embraced her, the nymph prayed and begged her mother, Gaia, to help her. The earth opened up and swallowed Daphne whole. In that same spot Apollo watched as a plant quickly grew and that was laurel or in Greek, daphne (Δάφνη).

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Another good story is that of mortal Marpessa (Μάρπησσα), to whom Apollo actually proposed believing the feeling of love to be mutual. However, witty Marpessa ad another one on the side, Idas (Ίδας), with whom she eloped on a flying horse. Apollo was enraged and chased after them. Thank Zeus, the father of the Gods actually intervened and ordered Marpessa choose one.  The woman worried that Apollo as an immortal and ageless would abandon her once she got older, chose Idas who was mortal. The god respected her choice and walked away. – May I just congratulate this beautiful immortal bachelor for at least knowing when to give up instead of cursing and killing mortals? Truly the most different of the rest of the Gods. May I also point out how wise Marpessa was? I mean, she really thought ahead and wasn’t driven by beauty, power or passions.
Well done to all of you, guys!
Modern Greeks approve!

 

Source: Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 1ος, σ.127-142

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Oedipus, the tragic mother fucker

Oedipus, the tragic mother fucker

Let’s see another example of Zeus actually keeping his pants on. This is considered tragic, probably because it is a mortal’s story. The beginning of the curse in the dynasty of Thebes (δυναστεία των Λαβδακιδών).

It all began when Oedipus’ (Οιδίποδας) father, Laius (Λάιος) fell in love with young prince Chrysippus (Χρύσιππος) who taught him how to ride the chariot. The rapped prince rejected Laius’ “feelings” and killed himself so his father, king Pelopas (Πέλοπας) cursed Laius. The curse was granted by Apollo who was enraged by Laius crime and for ignoring the prophecy of prophet Pythia (Πυθία) on this matter.

Lauis then went on to marry Jocasta (Ιοκάστη). As they could not conceive, they asked for the help of Delphus (Δελφοί), the prophets of Apollo, who told them that Laius should not have a child because he will be the cause of his doom. This child would kill him and marry Jocasta, drowning his family in blood and disgrace. However, when night came, orgies were held in the palace and in the burning of their passions they conceived a boy. The parents, aware that the child should not have been born, decided to leave it up the mountain. Therefore, they pierced his feet with metal sticks, which cause them to swell and hung him over a tree. The abandoned child was found by sheppards who named him Oedipus because of his swollen feet (οίδημα=swelling, πόδας=foot).

He was taken to the king of Corinthus (Κόρινθος), Polivus (Πόλυβος) and his wife Meropi (Μερόπη) who took him in and raised him as their own since they were childless. The years passed and Oedipus grew up to be a sturdy and clever young man. However, when the matter of his origin came up, his foster parents refused to answer him clearly so he went to the oracle of Delphus where they told him that he should not return home as he would kill his father and marry his mother. Oedipus though still thought that Polivus and Meropi were his natural parents so he decided against going back to Corinthus.

He headed towards Thebes (Θήβα), the kingdom of Laius, and on his way there met the king himself who he did not recognize. There was a misunderstanding between the two men who quarreled and finally fought. As predicted by the prophets, Oedipus killed his father then and there and headed again towards Thebes. There a hero was in need to kill the beast of the Sphinx (σφίγγα), who would ask passengers a riddle and would kill them if their answer was wrong. Witty Oedipus solved the riddle of “What creature first has four legs, then two and finally three” with his answer “Man, who first crawls, then walks and finally needs a staff as a support to move”. When the Sphinx heard the correct answer, she fell off the cliff she was standing on.

Creon who was now king of Thebes, gave his widow sister as a reward to Oedipus for he had defeated the beast that consumed the citizens of Thebes. So the prophesy was once again fulfilled as Oedipus married his mother, Jocasta. Together they had four children, Polynices (Πολυνίκης) , Eteocles (Ετεοκλής), Ismene (Ισμήνη) and Antigone (Αντιγόνη). However, big famine fell upon the kingdom and the prophet Teireseus (Τειρεσίας) was the one to explain its cause. He revealed that as long as the killer of the previous King was left unpunished the kingdom would suffer. Lastly he unveiled the truth about Oedipus crimes of killing his father and marrying his mother. Oedipus then cursed his children that were seeds of such hideous crimes and blinded and cast himself to exile.  Once Jocasta found out about her dishonorable marriage she hung herself.

What? Do you think that was it for Oedipus? Of course not! While Jocasta hung herself for her shame, our Oedipus found himself a nice virgin in the mountain he “exiled” himself, who bared many children for him… ο κάφρος.
I know what you’re thinking: didn’t Zeus do the same? Didn’t he kill his father, Cronos (who also knew a son would be a threat to him) and marry his sister Hera? Why do we see Oedipus story as tragic but Zeus is the great God and father of all?

I feel that if I don’t mention Zeus’s pants in every post I’m losing the essence of Greek mythology haha…

Source: Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 5ος, σ.739-744

Greek Mythological Beasts: 1) Sphinx

Greek Mythological Beasts: 1) Sphinx

The Sphinx lived on the mountain Φίκιο and was a monster who spread panic all over the area. She had the head and the breasts of a woman, legs and tail of a lion (in other versions: of a dragon) and wings of a eagle.  Her parents were Τυφωέα and Έχιδνα. She was sent by Hera or Apollo to Thebes to punish the city for the crime of Laius.

Other versions say that Sphinx was actually the female leader of thieves that lived near Thebes. These rogues would assault and kill the citizens who crossed them, leaving no survivors to pinpoint them or even describe them to others. The riddles of the Sphinx were actually traps that the thieves would set up… But this is a boring version so I’ll stick to the Sphinx being a horrid monster who ate and killed whoever answered her wrong.

Source: Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 5ος, σ.742

 

Hades: the Ancient Voldemord

Hades: the Ancient Voldemord

There is not much lore about Hades, the God of Death. There is, of course, the myth about the abduction of Dimitra’s daughter, Persephone but because of the God’s nature which involved eternal darkness people feared to even say his name, let along write about him or worship him.

According to Homer, after Zeus granted him the permission, Hades abducted Persephone by luring her with the most beautiful flower that even the Gods envied, a narcissus. When the beautiful virgin reached to take the flower from the flowery field she was playing in, the ground split in half and from the ground ascended the God of Darkness, on his chariot with his immortal horses. He then kidnapped her and took her to the underworld.

After the intervention of Hermes as a messenger for Zeus, Hades compromised with Dimitra and let Persephone live in the World of the Living for one half of the year (which created spring and summer) and in the Underworld for the other half (autumn and winter).

What is not widely known about the God of Death is that even if he chose his wife so arrogantly, abducting her and making her his and all, he wasn’t really faithful after all (probably walking in his big brother’s steps…).

There was a time when the Lord of darkness wished to make Minthis his mistress. Not a wise decision I’d say, since poor Minthis after giving herself to Hades was found by Persephone and Dimitra and was trampled and killed by them. During her torture, Hades didn’t bother to move from his throne to help her but at least he transformed her into a plant that grew for the very first time in the world, on the mountain Minthis of Trifilias: the well-known mint, which is dedicated to the God of darkness.

It should also be noted that through the ages, Hades was renamed Pluto and this time he was not associated solely with doom, he was now the God of abundance. Everything that grew on the ground existed because what was there before was now dead and flowing into the new life.

More on Dionysus: Wine as a gift of the God

More on Dionysus: Wine as a gift of the God

“When Dionysus was a guest at Oineias’ palace, the former fell in love with his host’s wife, Althea.  However, when Oineias came to realize this, he decided that he should not mess with the God and so he let them be. From Dionysus love with Althea, Dieanira and Meleagros were born.

God Dionysus, to reward Oineias for his understanding, he taught him how to take care of grape vines and gave their juice the name of the mortal (οίνος).” [1]

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May I just comment on how cool Oineias was? I mean, I’m so glad that there were humans that actually understood how powerful a God can be and just backed the heck off before they committed a crime against an immortal. At least, have one God on your side if you’re planning on making another your enemy, like think of anyone involved with Zeus… even a female cat would be Hera’s victim if she got all honey-dovey with the Father of the Gods. It wouldn’t be Hera’s fault though, as Zeus really couldn’t keep it in his pants but that’s not the point. The point is that in most myths, some naïve mortal won’t accept the fact that by having a God around means trouble. Concluding, once a God sets eyes on you, you got to be his or else death awaits (or in the case of Zeus, both).

[1] Source : Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 3ος, σ.398

The Birth of Dionysus

The Birth of Dionysus

There are actually many versions about the way Dionysus was born but you will allow me to only convey the juicy one. Just like every juicy myth involving Zeus, this too includes his adultery and flirting with mortals as always.

This story begins in Thebes with the daughter of Kadmius and Harmony, Semelis. Her beauty attracted the erotic gaze of the Father of the Gods and she gave herself to him in Kadmius’ palace. However, Hera who was informed of her husband’s adventure swore to annihilate her love rival (like that was a first). Thus, she took the form of a house-helper and convinced the easily persuaded Semelis to ask of her God lover to show her all his power.

Without any suspicion, Zeus’ lover first made him swear that he would succumb to her one and only request and then revealed what it was. Zeus willingly promises to fulfill any wish but once he hears what she wanted, he tries to convince her to let go of this demand. She insists, though, and Zeus has no other choice than to stand by his word.

He appears before her in all his power, on his chariot with all his thunder around him. One of his bolts unintentionally hits her and she dies immediately, while also setting the palace on fire.

Semelis was already pregnant to Dionysus but because her pregnancy was not as long as it should have been, Zeus cut her and from her insides extracted the little God, whom he kept sewed in his thigh to grow.

Source : Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 3ος, σ.396

Theogony: First there was Chaos…

Theogony: First there was Chaos…

According to Hesiod, before anything else, there was Chaos (Χάος). Chaos was a space which included by nature everything that would create the Universe. So Chaos created Darkness (Έρεβος, the underground space that was as deep as the Sky was high) and Night (Νύχτα). Darkness and Night brought forth Air (Αιθέρα) and Day (Ημέρα). Thus, since Chaos created Darkness and Night, he was the main and the first beginning of everything.

After him, there was Earth (Γαία), the most solid base of everything, and Eros (Έρως), the most beautiful of all immortals who rejoiced all mortals and gods. Eros later took the meaning of romantic love and in general, the power of attraction that leads all elements to a union and the creation of new ones. This power is unlimited and most powerful; nobody can escape it.

Earth was the mother of all that exist and she first gave birth to the Sky (Ουρανός) who covered her with his starry cloak and became the never ending temple of the immortals. Earth married her first born and from their union generated the first dynasty of the Gods[1]. Those were the twelve Titans, the males were Oceanus, Coeus, Crius, Hyperion, Iapetus and the younger Cronus. The females were Theia, Phoebe, Rhea, Mnemosyne, Themis and Tethys. The Titans’ siblings were the Cyclopes, the one eyed entities, Brontes (thunderclap), Steropes (lighting) and Arges (bolt), who were full of pride and arrogance.

However, the Sky was aware that one day his sons would take over his throne therefore, he would throw them underground, deep in the earth in Tartarus. Desperate Mother Earth asked help from the rest of her children but only Cronus was brave enough to help her bring Sky down.

Cronus hid armed, waiting for the right moment to attack his father. Sky arrived with Earth, ready to make love to her, so he lays on all her width and length. Right then, Cronus left his hiding spot, immobilized his father and with his right hand cuts of the Sky’s manly part. From the blood that was spilled from this terrible wound, the Erinnyes, the Giants and the Nymphs were later born. Cronus threw the cut-off organ of his father into the sea and she kept it until white foam escaped her insides and that was how a daughter was born, who was no other than Aphrodite.

Cronus was no different than his father, though, as he too knew that he would fall from his throne by one of his sons. However, after he married his sister Rea, instead of throwing his children in Tartarus he preferred to swallow them once they were born. His daughters were Estia, Dimitra and Hera and his sons were Hades, Poseidon and later on Zeus, who was the only one to escape his stomach. That is because, Rea following the advice of their parents, Sky and Earth, saved him by escaping to Crete and giving birth to him there, while she gave Cronus to swallow a rock in a blanket.

Of course, Zeus survived and grew up in Crete were he became big and mighty to later dethrone his father. He then released from inside of him all his swallowed siblings along with the rock that was used as a substitute of himself. That was the third and last dynasty of the Greek Gods, the dynasty of the Olympic Gods.

Source : Ρίσπεν Ζ., Ελληνική Μυθολογία, Εκδόσεις Τριήρης, Τόμος 1ος, σ.11-16

[1] Immortals and Gods committed incest regularly as it was permitted, in contradiction to mortals for whom it was a great sin.