Five Things You Might Not Know (Or Ever Want To Know) about Greek Mythology
My novel, Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb, has equal parts Shakespeare lore and Mythology. I’ve always been a big fan of mythology and when I was researching satyrs and cyclopses (cyclopsi?) and gryphons I learned a thing or two about the Old Gods. Be forewarned. Things are about to get weird.
Pandora was the first woman. Well, doesn’t that figure? Very first mortal woman to exist in the world and what do we do? Blame her for all the evil there is. Pandora was crafted out of water and earth, (basically mud) and used as tool by Zeus to punish Prometheus for stealing fire and creating creatures – a power only previously available to the gods. Just so we’re straight they created a woman, gave her curiosity and box full of evil and sent her out into the world. But hey, it’s all her fault right?
Zeus became the ruler of Mt. Olympus by tricking his father into puking up his brothers and sisters. Ew. Cronos was the head honcho, the lead Titan, pre-Olympians. Cronos became the big man by killing his father Uranus with a sickle but not before cutting of his….ahem. Then, paranoid he would lose his ranking as Big Cheese, he ate all his kids. Each and every one of them. Wait, it gets better. So Rhea, his wife gets fed up with all the birthing and eating (it’s all so messy) and hides her next son Zeus, replacing him with a rock which Cronos also ate. Apparently he wasn’t a picky eater. So Zeus toddles off and grows up and comes back, whips up some ipecac and Cronos yaks up all his kids…and the rock… and a goat apparently. So the kids, surprisingly undigested after all these years, then kill him and take over. Happy Father’s Day!
Zeus, for all his daddy issues, is surprisingly just like his father, Kronos. Being the Lord of the Heavens is busy work. Sometimes a god gets stressed - paranoid if you will. Maybe he hears prophesy that his child will unseat him just like he did to his pop and like his pop did to his pappy. Maybe it starts to eat away at him. Maybe he worries about all the side effects of his dalliances. So what to do? Be like daddy and eat the kids? Oh no! That’s uncivilized. Instead, eat their mother. Now that nasty little problem is all gone until one day, about nine months later, he gets a splitting headache and convinces his son to chop his skull open and out of his head pops his daughter, all grown up in full armor. You have to admit, it’s a pretty good entrance. Zeus calls her Athena and she becomes Daddy’s little girl. (Note: There’s no further mention of the poor mother.)
Family is complicated. Now that Athena is alive and well having popped out of her father’s head she goes about the busy work of making Gorgons. Hideous creatures, tusks of boars, batwings, dragon scales, beards, fangs, snake tongues. Real lookers, these guys. The most famous of which is Medusa. You all know her. Snake hair, likes to bore her dinner guests to stone. For some reason Athena’s uncle, Poseidon, lord of the sea, has a thing for charity cases and he and Medusa hit it off. Sort of gross since they were created by Athena and that might very well include birthed but hey, we won’t judge. And what are the spoils of Poseidon and Medusa’s little love affair? Pegasus. Yup, take a sea god and a monster and you get a beloved-by-all-six-year-old-girls-the-world-over magical flying horsey.
Zeus and Hera are brother and sister. And also husband and wife. I’ll just leave it at that. What? Like your family is perfect?
Here is an Excerpt of Lizzy Speare and the Cursed Tomb:
In the darkness Lizzy reached her hand out and whacked it against something hard, stinging her knuckles. Reaching out carefully this time, she felt around her. It was a wall, only inches from her face. She could feel her own breath on her face as she leaned forward. Her eyelids twitched nervously.
She slid her foot out and it hit the same wall. She tried to turn around, but realized she couldn’t. There was a wall behind her too. Something was wrong. A heat raced through her body. Suddenly, Lizzy realized her orientation was off. In the dark and with the rush of the Traversing Quill it had been hard to tell. She was not standing upright after all. She was lying down. There was a wall in front of her and behind her.
Trying to stay calm, she ran her hand along the wall’s edge until her fingers traced out a corner. In a panic, her knee flew up and smacked painfully on the ceiling. It wasn’t a ceiling though, it was a lid. She was trapped in some kind of box!
In her mind, Lizzy could see the words “Shakespeare’s Tomb” light up in gold and then fade to black. She took deep breaths to try to control the spasms coursing through her body. The desire to move was overwhelming. All she wanted to do was kick, run, swing her arms. Her limbs strained against their confinement. Lizzy turned her head to the side and something grainy brushed her cheeks.
“What’s this?” Lizzy whispered in the darkness. Her fingers tried to pick up what felt like crumbs. Her other hand reached down her side and landed on some kind of stick. Like a blind person, Lizzy pulled it up toward her face and frantically ran her fingers over it.
It’s a bone.
Lizzy screamed and started kicking and pounding on the walls. It’s a coffin! It’s a coffin!
The panic pressed down on her and she could feel every molecule of air leaving her body. I can’t die in here! I can’t die! Lizzy screamed. No words came out, no actual comprehendible words, but she screamed until her voice was hoarse. When she was done screaming, her breath came in quick short spurts. Focus. Focus. She told herself there had to be a way out. There was always a way out. Please, let there be a way out.
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