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Archives: greek mythology

Apollo’s Powers Were Sick, Yo

Apollo’s Powers Were Sick, Yo

I’m back with another installment of my lesser known domains series. You can read previous articles about Athena, Dionysus, Posiedon, and Hades in the archives. Today I’m going to tell you all about Apollo. Apollo is best known for two things– being the god of music and being the god of the sun. Apollo had a few other domains, and one of them might surprise you; it seems contradictory to the other.

Poseidon Was The Original Pony Boy

Poseidon Was The Original Pony Boy

You’ve heard all about Athena’s ferocious side, why Dionysus is the god of Theater, and how Hades came to be the one rolling in gold. Today we’re going to talk about Poseidon. When Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon (the three sons of Kronos) sat down to split dominions, Zeus got the sky and Hades got the underworld. We all know Poseidon, famous for his trident, became the god of the sea. Some of you may even know that he reigns over earthquakes (because tsunamis are earthquakes under water?)  Now we’ll all learn about how Poseidon came to hold dominion over horses. Hint: he invented them.

Poseidon_adventure_postnoon_newsInvented horses? Clearly I must be mad because people don’t “invent” animals; we breed them. You’re right. He didn’t invent them so much as father them. Depending on which myth you look at, Poseidon either spilled his “seed” on a rock to create the first horse or mated with some strange creature to produce them. Either way, Poseidon’s genetic material was involved, which was why worshipers in ancient cults sacrificed horses to Poseidon by drowning them in the sea.

Poseidon was famous for turning into a horse when it suited him. In one myth, Poseidon pursued Demeter with lecherous intent. To flee him, Demeter changed herself into a horse. That didn’t stop Poseidon, (we all blame Hades for being rapey, but his brothers were even worse) who turned himself into a horse and overtook Demeter. From that union came a very special, immortal horse named Aerion, who was owned by a bunch of heroes, but most famously by Herakles.

In Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World, Nick uses his affinity with this lesser-known domain to his advantage. It’s an ideal talent for a play-boy. After all, Poseidon was the original Pony Boy.

Hades is Gettin’ Paper

Hades is Gettin’ Paper

I’m back with another little-known-domains post. Previously I told you all about how Dionysus came to be the God of theater and how Athena is not just a brainiac, but a warrior. Today’s post is about Hades, Lord of the Dead, and how he’s not just the god of the underworld.

20110828153832!HadesHades, Lord of the Dead, is the god of the underworld. He rules over Hades, a place literally deep under ground where there are rivers and fields and souls go when they die. Hades, the name of the realm as well as the god, is deep under the earth. Do you know what else is? Gold. Gems. Silver.  Any precious metal or stone you can name comes from deep under the ground, which is exactly why Hades is a high baller. That’s right, he’s rolling in riches. For those of you into etymology, there’s a connection between wealth and the Roman name “Pluto.”

Hades has a lot of things going against him: all his close friends are dead, he doesn’t have a seat on Olympus, his wife is literally his prisoner, and his dog drools three times as much. At least with all of those problems, he still has a plethora of riches. Hades is gettin’ paper.

Athena Will Cut You

Athena Will Cut You

Last week I wrote a post explaining how Dionysus, god of wine, came to be the god of theater and springtime. Today, I bring an article about my favorite Olympian, Athena. We all know her as the goddess of wisdom, but how many of you can list her lesser domains?

athenaThe first thing to note is that Athena was born armed, armored, and screaming. She was born in an act of violence. Athena’s mother was Metis, but Zeus ate her to circumvent a prophecy (the same prophecy that caused Kronos to eat Zeus and family). Metis (Titan of deep thought and cunning) was pregnant, and so by eating her instead of her child, Zeus stopped history from repeating itself.

Zeus had a pounding headache, and in the time before Aleve, the next logical step was to ask Hephaestus to cut his head open with an axe. Athena burst out, armed with a spear and holding an aegis, and thus she became Zeus’ favorite child.

Athena got the domain of wisdom from her mother, but she was also a warrior goddess. The Greeks didn’t like Ares as much as the Romans liked Mars, and in Greek myth, Ares was a god of passionate violence. Athena was the goddess of strategy (think wisdom in war) and also the defender of the city. She was a goddess of civilization, holding domain over handicrafts (like weaving) and agriculture.

So when you think about Athena, don’t pigeon-hole her as a nerd. There’s a reason I made Minnie Rutherford in Olympia Heights a derby girl. She is more than just brains. She’s fierce. Athena will cut you. She’ll probably do it with a spear.

Fan Art: Zach Jacobs

Fan Art: Zach Jacobs

My college room mate is working on a beautiful series of illustrations for Olympia Heights. The first, which is available on Redbubble for sale as an iPhone case or print, was of Lewis Mercer (Hermes). Here is the second piece, a portrait of Zach Jacobs, the character on the cover of the first book.

 

zeusweb

Check out her shop at Redbubble!

 

Book Review: Olympus by Nathan Edmonson

Book Review: Olympus by Nathan Edmonson

★★★★☆

“Zeus granted immortality to two brothers and bound them to his service. Three thousand years later they serve him on Earth, hunting fugitives from Olympus, and maintaining balance and order between the human realm and the divine.”

I picked up Olympus, written by Nathan Edmonson, art by Christian Ward, at the Alabama Phoenix Festival in Birmingham, AL this year. Edmonson was there, selling comics, and the art immediately caught my eye. My copy is signed and I have to say, I do not regret the purchase.

Olympus is an independent comic, or at least it’s not Marvel, DC, or Darkhorse. Image Comics published the four series comic in 2009 and the trade is available for $14.99 on Amazon.com. The binding is excellent and the cover uses a mix of matte and glossy textures effectively. The trade includes a few pinups by guest artists, too.

The art was initially what grabbed me, but it’s also what sometimes makes this tale a four-star find. The line is loose, the colors are soft, and Ward employs color like a proper expressionist painter, favoring mood over reality and local color. Sometimes, however, the colors and the loose lines make it difficult to tell exactly what is going on. Action sequences are unclear. For some, this may not be a problem. For me, as an extremely logical, Athena-type, ambiguity makes me bristle.

Edmonson’s writing tells the tale of Castor and Pollux, the Gemini twins, cursed to live forever in the service of Zeus. In the opening scene the twins are at a club for New Years Eve. In a shocking early scene, the unfamiliar versions of these modern heroes shoot each other, point-blank, in public. Castor and Pollux can’t die, so they run around taking care of the remnants of a Greek Pantheon that has (mostly) locked itself away from contemporary earth. The brothers have well-defined, differing personalities and have adapted well to modern life. The real meat of the plot starts when a run in with the rogue god, Hermes, leads to the release of a much more dangerous foe. This enemy is where Ward’s loose, expressive art style really shines.

If you’re a lover of comics and Greek Mythology, Olympus is definitely one to check out. It’s a short, contained run that tells a fun story from start to finish. It’s funny, it’s epic, and the art is worth drooling at for $14.99.

Haven’t entered the Giveaway yet? Go here before Saturday, July 21, 2012 to enter!

 

5 Awesome Artists Inspired By Greek Mythology

5 Awesome Artists Inspired By Greek Mythology

Art has been inspired by classical mythology for hundreds of years. These are five artists who are being inspired today.

1. Terry Strickland (http://terrystricklandart.com/)

Terry Strickland may be my mother in law, but that obvious bias doesn’t take away from the fact that she is an AMAZING artist and has been since long before I met her son. She’s been working with mythological ideas for a while, as seen by the myths, legends, and fairy tales category on her site. An example is this 2008 painting, Pandora.

Lately, helping with the photography for my books, Terry has been getting a little extra Greek inspiration. Her recent painting, The Bribe, came from a photo-shoot for the Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World cover. Later in 2012 she will have completed a painting of me as Athena for The Incognito Project. Work is in progress now. That painting will be featured in a show later this year, and then published in a book by Matter Deep Publishing.

The Bribe

2. Sabin Howard (http://www.sabinhoward.com/)

Sabin Howard is a contemporary sculptor, working in bronze, who has created three “heroic scale” sculptures of Hermes, Apollo, and Aphrodite. Howard’s sculptures harken back to a renaissance exploration of classical mythology, while using bronze to remain grounded in our modern aesthetic. Howard is a teacher as well as a sculptor. Check out his awesome Hermes statue, complete with his totem animal, the serpent, below.

Hermes

3. Mats Minnhagen (http://www.minnhagen.com/)

Mats Minnhagen is a Swedish digital artist who posts work on DeviantArt. He does a lot of illustrations for fairy tales and myths. I found Minnhagen through his steampunk Orpheus. This epic re-imagining of Orpheus and Eurydice has been the wallpaper on my desktop quite a few times.

His style is colorful, dramatic, and has a really great sense of light and humor (such as this drawing, Eureka). Unfortunately, most of the books Minnhagen has art in are Swedish. I don’t speak Swedish, so I guess I’ll just stick to following him on DeviantArt.

 

Orpheus

4. Graham Annable (http://grickle.com/)

Graham Annable is an animator and cartoonist who has worked with some pretty big names. You can see his animations on Youtube and his art on Flickr. Graham Annable has an entire photo gallery on his Flickr portfolio dedicated to Greek Mythology. Grickle Mythology is a pretty hilarious collection of cartoons.

Grickle.com is a bit ambiguous on Graham Annable’s credits. Further investigation (via his imdb.com profile) credits him with storyboards on Coraline, clean up animation on A Goofy Movie, and direction on the Bone video games.

Family Dinner

5. Sara Richard (http://sararichard.com/)

Sara Richard is working on a very interesting series right now, Unsung Muses. These muses, the less credited inspirations, include various kinds of birds and dogs, such as Pug Muse. Sara Richard is working as an illustrator and getting frequent freelance work from HASBRO.

I found Sara’s art through DeviantArt. Her Athena illustration has been in my favorites gallery for months. Sara Richard also has a few awesome Egyptian illustrations in her gallery. Her portfolio is mainly comprised of Marvel superhero illustrations, though it includes a respectable amount of Harry Potter, DC Comics, and Sailor Moon.

Athena

Check out more work from these artists by going to their sites. See more of Terry Strickland’s photography on the covers of Olympia Heights: The Pantheon and Olympia Heights: The Weight of the World.

Haven’t entered the Giveaway yet? Go here before Saturday, July 21, 2012 to enter!

12 Words and Phrases We Get From Greek Mythology

12 Words and Phrases We Get From Greek Mythology

Etymologists (people who study words and their histories) should be very familiar with Ancient Greek language and culture. Latin words make up about 50% of the English language, and the Romans borrowed their mythology from the Greeks. Greek words make up another estimated 5%. So what words and phrases come directly from Greek mythology? Here are twelve!

1. To harp-

to talk/write tediously and persistently on a particular topic. Example: “My wife is such a nag; she won’t stop harping on me about those bills!” This word comes from the Greek mythological creature, the Harpy. Harpies were birds with the heads of beautiful women (though in later mythology they were confused with other creatures and became hideous women). The Harpies were agents of justice. They abducted people and tortured guilty parties the entire way to Tartarus. The Harpies were famous, for instance, for swooping down and stealing the food of hungry persons, right before they could consume it.

2. Greeks Bearing Gifts- 

Someone or something that looks too good to be true, a charismatic devil. Example“Beware of Greeks bearing gifts.” We all know the story of the Trojan War. Two countries got into a big war over a beautiful woman, but the war waged on way longer than it should have because the Trojans had an impenetrable wall. Then, someone (Odysseus) got the brilliant idea to make a giant wooden horse and leave it at the gates of Troy. When the Trojans accepted it as a parting gift for surrender, they brought it into the walls of the castle. At night, Greek soldiers hiding in the horse jumped out and burned the city. Hence my poem about why this is terrible branding for a condom.

3. Trojan Horse-

A virus that gets into a computer disguised as a friendly program. Example: “I thought I was downloading episodes of Glee, but one of them came with a Trojan.” The previous information about Greeks bearing gifts applies here.

4. A Mercurial Disposition-

Subject to sudden or unexpected changes in mood. Example“The ninth Doctor had a mercurial disposition. He would go from fits of rage to sudden glee, and that was when he was truly frightening.” Mercury is the Roman name for the Greek god, Hermes. Hermes, the trickster Olympian, was unpredictable and ever shifting. As an infant, Hermes stole the cattle of Apollo and walked them backwards up a mountain to confuse his trackers. When he was finally hunted down, Hermes pretended to be a frightened child. He was brought to trial before Zeus, where he confessed the comedic escapade and was granted leniency. He then gave Apollo the lyre, which he had invented, and won him over as a friend.

5. Platonic-

Love free from romantic interest. Example: “Harry Potter and Hermione Granger have a strictly platonic relationship.” The word platonic isn’t exactly from Greek  mythology, but rather from the writings of the Greek philosopher Plato. In his work, Symposium, Plato wrote about Socrates’ love for young men, which was separate from romance.

6. Achilles’ Heel- 

A tragic weakness or flaw. Example: “I was doing so well on my new diet, but Oreo cookies are my Achilles’ heel.” Achilles, the hero of the Trojan War, was one of the most powerful mythological heroes. It was said that he was dipped in the river Styx (you know, the one in the underworld) to ensure his immortality at birth. Unfortunately, he was held by his heel, and apparently the person dipping him didn’t want to get creepy underworld water on their fingers, so his heel was the one vulnerable spot on his body that was not invulnerable. Achilles died of a wound to the heel, thus the term, Achilles’ heel.

7. The Midas Touch

The good fortune of having everything associated flourish. Example“Did you know Steve Jobs cofounded Pixar? That man had the Midas Touch.” King Midas’ tale is not one of good fortune. His reward for recognizing and treating Dionysus with hospitality quickly backfired. Midas might also be one of the originators of be careful what you wish for. He was granted one wish and requested that everything he touch be turned to gold. The downside became apparent when food turned to gold as soon as it touched his lips and when his daughter ran into his arms for a hug and was also turned to gold. Lucky for Midas, his prayers to Dionysus were heard and he was given a remedy for his ailment. After washing in a particular river to rid himself of the curse, Midas detested wealth and became a worshipper of Pan.

8. Mentor

An experienced and trusted advisor. Example: “It’s no wonder Anthony Hopkins is such an amazing actor; he had Laurence Olivier as a mentor! During the ten long years of The Odyssey, and the ten previous years of The Trojan War, Odysseus’ son, Telemachus, was left without a father. Athena, who was on the Greek side of the whole affair, came down to serve as a teacher to Telemachus. Her human form was named Mentor, and this is where the term comes from.

9.  Adonis

An ideal, handsome human being, usually male. Example“Brad Pitt is seen by many as a modern Adonis.” Adonis was a beautiful young boy, who Aphrodite fell in love with because of Eros’ arrow. She gave him to Persephone to be sheltered as he grew, but his beauty was so great that Persephone refused to give him back. Adonis’ fate is left to two contradicting tales. In one tale, Artemis, jealous of his hunting skills, sent a boar after the boy. This fits with the Hercules myth, surely. In another, Ares, jealous of Aphrodite’s love, changed into the boar. Either way, the boy was gored and killed. So sad.

10. Fury

Passionate rage. ExampleHell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” The Furies (Roman), the Erinyes (Greek),  were the Ancient Greek avengers. They were chaotic spirits of vengeance that sprouted from the remains of Uranus’ castration. The punishment of the Furies usually included complete evisceration.

11. Nemesis

Mortal enemy. Usually associated with superheros. ExampleDr. Horrible’s nemesis is Captain Hammer, corporate tool.” Along with the gods, the Ancient Greeks had personifications. These were beings who literally were a concept. Apollo was god of the sun, but Helios was the sun. Nemesis is the Ancient Greek personification of divine retribution. Her name comes from the Greek meaning “given what is due.” Usually her retribution came for those who succumbed to hubris. By this definition, super-villains exist purely to keep the hero from getting too cocky and knock them down a peg when they do. Isn’t that an interesting revelation?

12. Phobia

A crippling fear. Example“You may not want to see Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets if you have a phobia of spiders or snakes.” Phobia comes from the name Phobos, the son of the Greek god Ares. Phobos literally meant “fear” or “terror” and was known for accompanying his father, “war”, into battle. If you want to imagine crippling fear, just picture an armed Spartan charging you with a spear.

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These and many more words and phrases come from Greek Mythology. Knowing these myths can help cement these definitions in your vocabulary and reveal fascinating insights about the usage of words. In fact, learning more about Greek and Roman myths can increase your understanding of literature, art, and poetry, too! Isn’t it nice to know?

Learn more about Greek Mythology by reading some of the books in the widget below!

Haven’t entered the Giveaway yet? Go here before Saturday, July 21, 2012 to enter!

 

6 Common Myths About Ancient Greece

6 Common Myths About Ancient Greece

Ancient Greece has been a topic of fascination for artists and poets for hundreds of years. During the Renaissance, classical mythology became a favorite subject for the great thinkers of Europe. Myths have been translated and passed down, retold and embellished. In more recent history, archaeologists have excavated sites in Ancient Greek territories to discover much of what we know about the history and architecture of the Ancient Greek World. We think of Greek Mythology as the set of tales that made up the ancient religion. In all of this buzz, however, our own mythology was formed. Here are 5 common myths (misconceptions) about the Ancient Greek world.

1.The Greeks Had a Modern Democracy

Because of terms like “democracy” and “senate”, modern Americans tend to think of their own government when they look back upon the Ancient Greek world. Philosophers gave a lot of fine talk about freedom, so much that we’ve come to think of Ancient Greece as a place populated with men like our founding fathers. In reality, freedom was a luxury for male citizens. Slaves were not free and women did not vote. So, in actuality, it only felt like a modern democracy if you were born to a Greek, land-owning family, as a boy. And then you were still required to serve in the military and attend government meetings.

2. Hades Was the Bad Guy of Greek Mythology

Movies like Disney’s Hercules would have us believe that Hades, Lord of the Underworld, who shares his name with his domain, was the biggest baddy in Ancient Greek mythology. In truth, Hades was on equal footing with Zeus and Poseidon as lord of a domain. He was not evil, though he was very jealous of his brothers. Yes, he was a rapist, but so were Zeus and Poseidon. Hades gets the bad rep because Christianity drew parallels between the Greek Underworld and Christian Hell to bring pagans into the faith. Hades just happened to be in charge of the same relative physical space that Satan was later associated with.

If you’re looking for the real “bad guy”, look to the Titan, Kronos. If you absolutely must pick from the pool of Gods, most of the terror and destruction dealt to mortals was done by jealous Gods. Apollo and Athena are often guilty of this vengeful slaughter. Every God or Goddess has some myth where they unfairly eviscerate some mortal for a petty slight. As for the story of Hercules– or Heracles as the Greeks called him– depending on who tells it Hera OR Hera with the permission of Zeus, is the bad guy in that story.

3. The Greeks Sculpted a Bunch of White Statues

When we think of an Ancient Greek statue, we picture a white stone sculpture, usually featuring contrapposto, a balance of the human figure that the Ancient Greeks are credited with developing. What most people fail to realize is that these statues, when originally carved, were painted with bright colors. The paint has just worn off over hundreds or thousands of years. If you’re curious to know what they looked like, check out this article about a recreation of Ancient Greek pigments. They certainly don’t look as epic as plain white sculptures.

4. Pandora’s Box Was a Box

In the original myth, Pandora was given a sealed jar, a pythos, on her wedding night. You can see this jar in Ancient Greek art, as well as Seventeenth Century paintings. Somewhere in the 19th Century, we decided to make it a box. Pandora’s Box certainly has a nice ring to it. The Box can be seen in a number of paintings from the 1800’s, including the famous depiction by Waterhouse.

5. The Greeks Invented Mathematics

We credit the Greeks with inventing a lot of really cool things– democracy, philosophy, drama, mathematics. We’ve already covered how their democracy wasn’t really that special. Now we’re going to look at math. The invention of math can’t really be credit to one culture. We see evidence of early developments in Stone Henge, Mesopotamia, China, etc. While we do credit lots of modern advancements in math to Greeks (Pythagorean theorem, anyone?), the Ancient Greeks learned their base in mathematics from the Egyptians. Greek scholars used to sail to egypt and study for decades in Egypt before returning home as qualified scholars. Pythagorus may have taught us how to find the third side of a right triangle, but his people got their foundations from the Egyptians!

6. Hermes Had Winged Feet

The Greek God Hermes is generally depicted with winged sandals. In truth, Hermes had the ability to fly without the need of wings. Unfortunately, it’s very hard to make a statue made out of stone look like it’s flying. The easy solution for sculptors was to put wings on him. Hermes’ winged feet (and sometimes hat) were a symbolic device for artists to show flight. In reality, Hermes just flew because he was a badass.

BONUS! Controversy: That Mask From Your Textbook is Ancient Greek

In 1876, Heinrich Schliemann unearthed a burial site that was believed to be the grave of Agamemnon. He accomplished a lot in his life: he dined with the President, found gold in California,  conversed in 13 languages, and found the ruins of Troy. You know his work from that foil-looking mask in your history text books. Now Schliemann’s legitimacy has been called into question. Unsupervised practices in his early excavations, combined with some personal embellishments in his diary (Schliemann made up a Greek wife to make his life seem more exciting), have raised suspicions about Schliemann’s unprecedented luck.

Some say that he may have manufactured the mask and planted it in the site. Others say that these accusers are just looking for fame. Whether or not these sites are historic or mythical has been debated for quite some time. One thing is for sure, if Schliemann really did discover Troy and Agamemnon’s grave, he is the luckiest son of a gun to ever try his hand at archaeology.

Haven’t entered the Giveaway yet? Go here before Saturday, July 21, 2012 to enter!

 

 

Which Greek God Are You? (Quiz)

Which Greek God Are You? (Quiz)

Olympia Heights Anniversary Week Party: Day 1- Quiz

Happy Monday! Today, I bring you the first event of the Olympia Heights anniversary week party. The following quiz was made with QuizSnack and features 6 quick questions to help determine Which Greek God Are You? The personality profiles for this quiz are based on the characters in Olympia Heights, but I left out Hestia/Valerie, because everyone always leaves out Valerie. She’s like a the familiar in a tabletop Roleplaying Game that you keep forgetting you too.

There are only 6 questions, so this quiz is not (by any means) exhaustive. It’s just fun! Take the quiz and comment to tell me who you got and if you think it fits! (Refresh if the widget does not load).


Haven’t entered the Giveaway yet? Go here before Saturday, July 21, 2012 to enter!