Tag Archives: greek mythology

Powerless by Isabelle


Her feet slapped against the smooth stone floor. Each step a heavy thud as she dragged her body forward. The sound echoed against the empty walls, harsh in the silence.

The candles had long burned out. Only the moon filtered through the portico, offering a wash of silver light.

She stopped when she came upon the great statue, and fell to her knees. Continue reading

Sea of Stars by Isabelle

We were the last of the pure race. A straggling group of humans traveling among the stars, looking for a place to call home. We never settled on any of the terraformed planets- like so many of our species- though it wasn’t for lack of space. Every week The Winged Herald reported over the wireless that a new moon or dwarf planet had been transformed into a habitable environment for the heartbreakingly finite number of human refugees.

I used to dream about what life would be like in those colonies. A life that mimicked Earth’s old routines before everything went nuclear: school, farming, government. What would it be like to wake to the warm light of a star shining through my bedroom window, signaling the day? Or to dig my fingers into the wet soil and plant foods that would grow in an array of colors more brilliant than the nebulas?

I would never know. Continue reading

Awake, She Dreams by Isabelle

He came to me on a day like any other. My brothers were causing mischief in the sleepy town below the hill, while I spent my endless hours chanting through empty, cobwebbed corridors and doing pirouettes across the mahogany floors of the abandoned ballroom in the manor, overgrown with moss and vines.

The only people I ever saw were those that came at my Uncle’s command, and they were often too bereaved to sing and dance with me. All they wanted was a drink, and so I dutifully walked them to the flowing river that cut through our grounds and let them gorge themselves with water until their memories washed away with the currents of the smoky Lethe. Then, and only then, would my darling twin brother appear, in all of his somber glory, to walk them back through the land from which they came, back to my Uncle. Continue reading

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Morpheus

Continuing my obsession fascination with primordial deities, I decided to tackle the god of dreams, Morpheus. Though a winged daemon, or spirit, in his natural state, he possessed the power to take on any human form and appear within your dreams. There is conflict in the telling of who his parents were, as he’s often referred to as the son of Nyx, but also, perhaps more commonly, as the son of Hypnos (Sleep) who would have otherwise been his brother.

Morpheus was in charge of shaping dreams from within the dream realm, located in the underworld, and often said to be guarded by two gates, one of polished horn and one of sawn ivory. Though he worked alongside his brothers, Phobetor (from which we get the word phobia or fear) and Phantasos (in reference to fantasy, or things that were unreal or twisted in nature) Morpheus held the special responsibility for the dreams of kings and heroes, making him greater than his siblings.

Though this Greek god spent a long time in obscurity, he has been recently made popular by the cleverly parallel character of Morpheus in the Matrix, a man who reveals the ‘dream world’ to its future savior, Neo.

“What if when you woke up, you didn’t know the difference between the dream world, and the real world?”

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Clytemnestra

Allow me to introduce you to one of the most terrifying women in Greek mythology.  Well, depending on which version of her story you’re hearing.

Clytemnestra was the daughter of Leda—yes, the same Leda that was raped by Zeus in the form of a swan—and Tyndareus, a Spartan king.  She was the wife of Agamemnon, a hero of the Trojan war.  According to Euripedes, he was her second husband—and had murdered her first, forcing her to marry him.  Whilst trying to return from the Trojan war, the gods turned the winds against Agamemnon, demanding that he sacrifice his daughter—Clytemnestra’s daughter—Iphigenia, to turn the winds back in his favor.  Agamemnon convinced Clytemnestra to send Iphigenia to him, under the lie that she would be married to Achilles, then did as the gods demanded.

When Clytemnestra learned that her husband had sacrificed Iphigenia to the gods, she was wild with grief.  She was also beyond furious.  She had taken Agamemnon’s cousin Aegisthus as her lover, and when Agamemnon returned home—with his concubine, the doomed prophetess Cassandra in tow—Clytemnestra and Aegisthus plot their deaths.  She waits until Agamemnon is at his most vulnerable—taking a bath—then ensnares him in a net and stabs him repeatedly until he dies.  (At least, according to Aeschylus’s Oresteia. Euripedes mentions others doing her bidding.)

Cassandra, meanwhile, is sitting in the chariot doing her best to get someone, anyone, to go in and stop Agamemnon from being murdered, which she’s seen in a vision, but because of her curse from Apollo (who she’d spurned) no one listens to her.  Knowing she’s fated to die, she walks into the palace and allows herself to be slain.  At least, again, in the Oresteia.  In some versions, she escapes.

Eventually Clytemnestra has to pay for her sins—at the hand of her own son, Orestes.

I don’t know why I’ve always had such a fascination with Clytemnestra.  Maybe because I feel so bad for her… her story is truly tragic.  Not that she handles it in the best of ways, but… you can’t help but feel a little sorry for her, despite everything she does.

Lisa’s Tuesday Perspective: Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

The second novel in the Percy Jackson series is in a lot of ways, more of the same.  Percy and Annabeth run away from a not-as-safe-as-it-used-to-be Camp Half-Blood along with a new friend Tyson, in order to save Grover, who is in perilous danger.

I can’t really say a whole lot about this book that I didn’t say about the first.  Riordan jumps from myth to myth to obscure mythological character in an action-packed way that is really fun to try and keep up with.  This book went much faster for me than the first, and truly did feel like a continuation of the same book.  My one criticism would be that you don’t feel very much as if Percy is developing as a character—he’s the same kid at the end of this book as he was when he started the first one.

That said, there is some sweetness to his relationship with the oft-rejected Tyson—a friend who turns out to have more of a connection with Percy than he first realizes.  There is also a lot of hinting going on towards what may come in the later books, which is really fun to catch on to.  Can the traitorous Luke actually be saved?  Is the big mysterious prophecy about Percy—and if it is, what does that mean?

And even if the characters aren’t developing a whole lot individually, the friendships between them and the overall climate between Percy, the gods, and his fellow half-bloods.  There are so many characters that are coming in and out of the story that it would be overwhelming—except that we already know almost all of them from mythology.  Meanwhile, there are a lot of gray-scale characters involved that are neither all good nor all bad—and grayscale is what I live read for.  So while I don’t feel as emotionally tied to Percy as I did to (sorry to draw the comparison) say, Harry Potter, and I don’t necessarily see him taking life lessons away from his experiences—I’m still really happy to be along for the ride.

Give it an A.

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: The Moirae (Fates)

All of humanity’s life, represented by a long, endless thread. Clotho, the first of the Fates, spun the thread onto her spindle, beginning that particular life. Lachesis used her measuring rod, allotting each person a certain life span, while Atropos used her ‘abhorred shears’  to cut that life, in any manner she saw fit.

This was how a person’s life course, or fate, was decided, according to Greek mythology. The Moirae, or Fates as they’re commonly referred to, were three spinsters who apportioned life length and death, and as such were given great honor (or perhaps even feared) by the Olympian gods themselves.

According to the tales, the Moirae came to see a child seven nights after its birth to determine its life course. They were often viewed as remorseless and unfeeling. Atropos’ Roman equivalent was Death itself, or Morta. They were often depicted as old crones or hags, which might be why being an old spinster is looked down and feared by young maidens in so many cultures.

Re-evaluating these mythic characters, I couldn’t help but think of Sleeping Beauty and Disney’s rendition involving three faeries who come to bless the child after her birth. Three is a very significant number in many cultures. Also, does anyone notice that touching the spindle is what ‘ends’ her life? Or puts her to sleep in this case? I definitely think they were touching a bit on the Fates mythos.

Anyone know of any good YA stories involving the Fates? The Thief, which I reviewed yesterday, had a nice nod to the Moirae in the form of a woman, Moira. Definitely worth a look.

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Naiads

Naiads are water nymphs, usually connected to a certain spring, well, brook, or stream.  It was believed that if a naiad’s spring or well dried up, that the Naiad would die.

Like most Naiads are playful, but can be deadly to humans.  They enjoy beauty, but are also quite jealous, so if they lure a human underwater, they’re likely to keep it there—and drown it.  The Naiads are either descended from Poseidon, or from Oceanids (the 3000 daughters of the Titans Oceanus and Tethys).  Oceanids are similar creatures, but associated with salt water, as Naiads are associated with fresh.

Naiads were often the focus of cults or rituals in archaic times, with belief that they were tied to fertility or cleansing.  Children coming-of-age would throw locks of their hair into a spring dedicated to a Naiad, and in some cases Oracles or ritualistic animal drownings were tied to a certain spring as well.

Thursday Myths & Legends 101: Adamantine

Adamantine is a legendary substance dating back to the middle ages, and perhaps beyond.  It was basically meant to be the hardest substance on earth—though whether it is metal or gemstone varies.  Adamantine has captured the imagination for centuries because of the qualities it is meant to have—it is supposed to be unbreakable, untarnishable, lightweight (good for armor), and of enormous strength.  Basically, someone with armor and sword made from adamantine would be nigh unbeatable.

Of course then the question is how something can even be forged out of such a material, but usually this slight complication is done away with by being a gift of some type of supernatural power, whether that be faerie or deity or what-have-you.  The gates of Tartarus are supposed to be guarded with a gate of adamantine, for example, and it was this material the gods used to chain Prometheus.  Adamantine is even mentioned in John Milton’s Paradise Lost, where Satan’s shield is described to be of “ten-fold adamant,” and the angels’ armor is of adamantine, while also making appearances in The Faerie Queen, and one of John Donne’s poems.

Probably the most recognizable modern adaptation of this remarkable metal is the Adamantium of the Marvel Comics universe—an alloy that must be kept boiling because once it cools it is virtually indestructible.  It is this metal that is grafted to Wolverine’s bones, along with appearing in a dozen other ways.  In this case, it is science, and not mythology, which has created so strong a substance, but the outcome is the same.

What I like about adamantine is that it’s basically a Utopian trope—perfect, and therefore impossible.  But the idea, the possibility of adamantine has existed for centuries… all because of fiction, basically, and that’s a pretty awesome thing.  Good on you, fiction.  Good on you.

Movie Magic Monday: Clash of the Titans (2010)

One of our lovely readers, Katie, made some really great movie suggestions on last week’s MMM. I wrote a bunch down for future reference, but the one that particularly stood out was Clash of the Titans. I’ve never seen the 1981 version, though I’ve heard great things about it being a classic fantasy film so I’ll definitely be putting it on the Netflix queue.

A few weeks ago, my little brother pointed out the trailer to the new and upcoming Clash- and that’s what I remembered when Katie mentioned it. I gotta say, I’m way psyched for this film! Fantastic visual effects (as those Greek myth monsters were usually hideous!), lots of mythological references to Geek over (did you see Medusa?) and Liam Neeson + Ralph Fiennes + Alexa Davalos? *fangirl squee* This is going to be epic!

Plus, that song used the trailer is The Bird and the Worm by The Used. “all alone he turns to stone while holding his breath half to death, terrified of what’s inside he crawls like a worm from a bird.” GREAT song.

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