Myth Monday: Who’s Who in The Blood of Olympus

Welcome back to Myth Monday, where I talk about myths and books and myths in books. You can catch up on Myth Monday here. You can catch up on my Who’s Who in Percy Jackson posts here.

The Monsters

The Giants

This is the last book in the Heroes of Olympus series. The giants are the Big Bads, although as we’ve seen, there are plenty of other baddies. I’ll run down the list of giants who are still living at the beginning of this book:

Gaea: Gaea is the Titan of earth and the real villain of the Heroes of Olympus. She was married to Uranus (the sky) until she convinced her kids to chop him up in pieces. She was defeated by the gods in the Titan war. Throughout this series, she’s been trying to wake up, and in The Blood of Olympus, she succeeds at last in waking up via the use of, you guessed it, the blood of Olympus. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because a lady who can spawn anywhere on the ground is unsettling, and this lady is POWERFUL.

Porphyrion: Porphyrion is one of the giants who fought for the Titans, a son of Gaea, and the antithesis of the god Zeus. Porphyrion was raised from Tartarus by all the baddies working together back in The Lost Hero, and has become king of the giants. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because all of these giants blur together for me, to be honest.

Polybotes: Polybotes is a giant and the antithesis to Poseidon, god of the sea (and Percy’s dad). Polybotes gets a little pissed because during the war between the gods and the giants, Poseidon dropped an island on top of him. Polybotes has it out for Poseidon and all of his descendants, and shows up again in this book and ultimately has to fight Poseidon and Percy because we’re into poetic justice.  4/5 Monstrous Rating because he’s got a more interesting backstory than most of these giant bros.

Enceladus: Enceladus is another Titan son of Gaea, and the antithesis to Athena. He is finally defeated in The Blood of Olympus by Athena and her daughter Annabeth working together. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being an incredibly boring giant.

Hippolytos: Ok here’s a fun one (?maybe). Hippolytos is another giant/Titan blah blah blah, but he has a grudge against Hermes because apparently, back during the Titan war, Hermes a) stole Hades’ cap of invisibility and b) used it to defeat Hippolytos. RUDE. In The Blood of Olympus, Hippolytos wants nothing more than to defeat the gods and replace Hermes as the messenger of the Titans. But alas. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being hilarious.

Periboia: Sooooo this lady is a little confusing because she’s referenced as the daughter of the giant-king Eurymedon, but Eurymedon might be another name for Alcyoneous. YOU DECIDE. In The Blood of Olympus, Riordan chose to make her the daughter of Porphyrion (because if we’re being confusing, we might as well go all the way). Periboia really wants to kill some demigods, and has to fight Aphrodite and her daughter Piper. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for extreme viciousness.

Thoon: Oh geez these keep getting more confusing. Ok, so this guy is also known as Thoas, and he has a brother named Agrios, and they’re both giants, ok, ok, good so far. The brothers killed by the Fates (the Moirai) during the war with the giants way back in the day. However, in The Blood of Olympus, Riordan basically combines both of the brothers into one character, Thoon, and he is the antithesis of the Fates and hoping to kill their faces. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because that’s confusing and there was a lot of hype for this guy and then he did nothing.

Mimas: *long, drawn out sigh* All right, Mimas. He’s a giant (surprise!). He was defeated in the giant war by: A. Hephaestus B. Ares C. Zeus YOU CHOOSE because different sources say different things. In The Blood of Olympus, Riordan combines these ideas in an interesting way by making him the antithesis to Hephaestus, HOWEVER, he explains that Mimas had to fight Ares as well, because Mimas’ brother Damasen (who we met in HoH) refused to fight because Damasen is a beautiful healing teddy bear of love. Mimas shows up in a temple to Phobos and Deimos (Panic and Terror) to terrorize Piper and Annabeth (but of course the girls own his face). 4/5 Monstrous Rating cuz he’s legit scary.

Orion: He’s kinda a big deal, you might have heard of him. He’s a giant but not a Giant, if you know what I mean. He’s possibly the son of Euryale and Poseidon, OR he’s possibly a magic baby made from a bull-hide and god-pee. Yeah, you heard me. Pick the one you like. Orion is not the classiest guy. His first wife Side gets sent to Hades for competing with Hera, but he falls in love with another girl, Merope, who he rapes and then Merope’s dad blinds him. Then, after Orion has been cured of his blindness (because Zeus understands not being able to control oneself (UGH)), he hunts with Artemis for a while. Orion finally gets killed off either because he brags about being the best and is stung to death by a scorpion; or because Apollo tricks Artemis into shooting him in an archery contest; or a combination! In The Blood of Olympus, Orion is back from the dead and ready to shoot any girl who looks at him sideways. Or really any girl, because Orion has no coping abilities. He’s finally decapitated by Reyna, the baddest girl of them all. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being the Absolute Worst.

Supporting Baddies

The Suitors (led by Antinous): These losers are the guys in The Odyssey who hang around Penelope’s house and try to convince her to marry them, even though Penelope is ALREADY MARRIED to a guy who is just taking the (really really really) long way home. Antinous is the chief of these, the worst, and the first one Odysseus kills when he finally returns. In The Blood of Olympus, all of the suitors have joined Gaea’s army because of course they have, but they’re not the smartest ghosts in the bunch. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Lemures: Lemures are the bad kind of ghosts: upset, restless, and malicious. We’ve seen lares in this series already; lares are the chill, just-hanging-out-to-support-our-family kind of Roman ghost, whereas lemures are the kind that want to ruin the lives of the living. In The Blood of Olympus, the suitors fall in this category, and have all signed up with Gaea. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Lycaon: Lycaon was a king of Arcadia. There are bunch of different myths about him. Most of the stories (and certainly the most popular ones) entail Lycaon serving entrails of a child (his own??) into a meal for Zeus, in order to prove that Zeus doesn’t know everything. Zeus does not approve of this kind of shenanigans (eating kids OR trying to fool him), and turns Lycaon and his 50 sons into wolves. I love werewolves but this guy is pretty icky. Previously on Heroes of Olympus we saw Lycaon and his wolves in The Lost Hero, but in The Blood of Olympus they’re minions of Orion Still kinda the worst, and we don’t see what ultimately happens to Lycaon. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty darn monstrous.

Kekrops (Cecrops): In mythology, Cecrops was a king of Athens. In The Blood of Olympus, Kekrops is supposedly the mythical first king of Athens, and a worshiper of Athena. However, in this version, Kekrops has decided to work with Gaea because he thinks its the best way for his people and city to prosper. He’s also….a snake-person? Honestly I’m not sure where Riordan got the inspiration for snake-Kekrops and his treacherous plans against the demigods. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because it’s child’s play for Piper to sweet-talk the snake.

Gods and Goddesses (ranging from Minor to Obscure)

Nike: Nike (or Victoria in Roman myths) is the Goddess of victory. She’s experiencing a bad case of schizophrenia in The Blood of Olympus due to the infighting between Roman and Greek demigods.

Phobos and Deimos: Mentioned above, they’re the sons of Ares, and the gods of Panic and Terror, which are often found on battlefields. Obviously.

Kymopoleia: Kym was a sea-nymph, a daughter of Poseidon, and the wife of Briares (the hundred-handed-one). In The Blood of Olympus, she’s sick of Poseidon and other sea-gods getting all of the glory. Fortunately, our heroes are able to strike a deal with her so that she enlists with the gods rather than Gaea.

Asclepius and Hygeia: Asclepius was a mortal son of Apollo and a great healer. One thing led to another and he managed to raise someone from the dead, so Zeus threw a lightning bolt at him. At some point, Asclepius became a god himself, the god of healing. His daughter Hygeia (“Health”) is where we get the word “hygiene” from. In The Blood of Olympus, the demigods need Asclepius’ help to create a cure, you know, just in case. Hygeia is present only in robot-form because of reasons.

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Blood of Olympus. Disney Hyperion, 2014. Print.

Tripp, Edward. The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology. Meridian, 1970. Print.

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Myth Monday: Ode to Bacchus

One of these days I will continue my blog series on Dionysus (Bacchus), god of wine, madness, and many other fun things. For now, here’s a poem on the guy that I read this last week by the Roman poet Horace. Follow the links for some background info.

Bacchus I saw in mountain glades
Retired (believe it, after years!)
Teaching his strains to Dryad maids,
While goat-hoof’d satyrs prick’d their ears.
Evoe! my eyes with terror glare;
My heart is revelling with the god;
‘Tis madness! Evoe! spare, O spare,
Dread wielder of the ivied rod!
Yes, I may sing the Thyiad crew,
The stream of wine, the sparkling rills
That run with milk, and honey-dew
That from the hollow trunk distils;
And I may sing thy consort’s crown,
New set in heaven, and Pentheus’ hall
With ruthless ruin thundering down,
And proud Lycurgus’ funeral.
Thou turn’st the rivers, thou the sea;
Thou, on far summits, moist with wine,
Thy Bacchants’ tresses harmlessly
Dost knot with living serpent-twine.
Thou, when the giants, threatening wrack,
Were clambering up Jove’s citadel,
Didst hurl o’erweening Rhoetus back,
In tooth and claw a lion fell.
Who knew thy feats in dance and play
Deem’d thee belike for war’s rough game
Unmeet: but peace and battle-fray
Found thee, their centre, still the same.
Grim Cerberus wagg’d his tail to see
Thy golden horn, nor dreamd of wrong.
But gently fawning, follow’d thee,
And lick’d thy feet with triple tongue.

-Ode II.19 by Horace

You can read my other posts on Dionysus here, here, and here.

Myth Monday: Who’s Who in The House of Hades

Catch up on Myth Monday posts here.

Catch up on Who’s Who in the Percy Jackson series here.

There are sooooooooo manyyyyyyyyyy monsters in The House of Hades, since much of it is set in Tartarus where the monsters go to die forever. Or whatever.

The Monsters

numina montanum or the ourea: These are, essentially, minor gods of the mountains, on god per mountain. They show up as a throwaway villain at the beginning of The House of Hades, literally throwing pieces of mountain at our heroes (I pictured this scene because, well, yes). 4/5 Monstrous Rating because I want one of my very own.

The Kerkopes (Akmon and Passalos): These brother jokers were the children of the Titan Oceanus (kind of a big deal) and Theia (a mortal?). They are described as either dwarves, monkeys, or gnomes. So…short? They’re most infamous for robbing and harassing Hercules (that Hercules), but Hercules eventually caught and possibly killed them (editions vary). They commit similar behavior in THOH, harassing our heroes until finally outgunned and outmanned by Leo (because Leo is a boss). 2/5 Monstrous Rating for being really frolickin annoying, besides which they’re not really monsters, on the third hand Leo recruits them to harass his enemies so they turn out good…sort of?

Iapetus “Bob” the Titan: Iapetus is the Titan son of the big two: Ouranus and Gaea, back in the day when they were still having kids and not murdering each other. Iapetus and his brothers eventually teamed up to murder their dad, and even later they were tossed into Tartarus by the gods, partly for being pretty terrible, but mostly for being on the wrong side. In a previous Percy Jackson story, Iapetus the Titan came up against Percy only to be thrown into the river Lethe. This caused him to lose his memory and become “Bob.”  In this book, Bob shows up again to help Percy out while he’s stuck in Tartarus, and slowly regains his memories. Of course, this forces Bob to choose whether to be a friend or enemy of our heroes, and whether to stay simple janitor “Bob” or world-destroying Titan Iapetus. I love Bob.

katobleps: This might secretly be an African gnu, but in mythological creature terms it was a bull-like animal with poisonous breath and lethal gaze. YEAH, BUDDY. In THOH, they’re infesting Venice and Frank kills a whooooooooooole bunch of them. 4/5 Monstrous Rating because Cows That Kill With Bad Breath. Check out this blog post for an incredible artist’s rendition.

The arai: These are literal curses in spirit form, so not the most fun people to be around. They’re related to the Furies (Erinyes), so the whole family is killer. I really love how these are used in THOH: in Tartarus, Percy and Annabeth come up against a bunch of arai, and Percy realizes that all of the enemies he’s fought in his life have cursed him. He has to deal with their posthumous curses one by one and it’s really scary and really painful. 5/5 Monstrous Rating, would not curse again.

Sciron (and his giant turtle): Sciron was an infamous Corinthian bandit. He would force travelers to wash his (reputedly disgusting) feet and while they were doing that, he would kick them over a cliff into the sea. In some versions the hapless travelers were then eaten by Sciron’s giant turtle pet. In THOH, Sciron waylays the good ship Argo II and our good demigod friends, but Hazel is able to spin some magic and trick Sciron with illusions into falling himself, right into his turtle’s mouth. Hazel, obviously, is the real boss here. 4/5 Monstrous Rating because ew and bonus for the turtle because turtles are adorable even when they’re eating people.

Damasen: Soooooooo there’s not a lot of information to be found on this guy, but he was a giant, and he was from Lydia, and he definitely killed a drakon. So, good work. I enjoyed this other blog post’s summary on him, “Hot Damasen.”The pun is just too good. Riordan extrapolates on Damasen’s character quite a bit in THOH; Damasen is a giant who has been exiled to Tartarus for, I don’t know, NOT being a terrible person, I guess? He’s the antithesis to Ares, god of war, and is a great healer. 1/5 Monstrous Rating because he’s just a big old softie, really.

Akhlys: AKA MY LADY OF POISONS. She’s the goddess of misery but she’s also really great with poisons, I guess so she can make as many people miserable as possible. What a gal. In THOH, she poisons Percy and Annabeth with “Death-Mist” because it’s what all the cool kids are doing and so they can pass unnoticed among the monsters in Tartarus. You know you’re in a bad place when the only way to blend in is using a drug called “Death-Mist.” 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Nyx: The goddess of night, obviously; this lady is a classic. She’s one of the oldest gods, sorta like Genesis 1:2, etc etc. She has lots of important children such as Light and Day (which is confusing to me, especially since their dad is Darkness). In THOH she is REAL dark and REAL scary, but Annabeth is a clever girl and winds Nyx and her kids up so much that they plunge themselves into darkness and accidentally fight each other while Annabeth and Percy escape. Classic. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

N1.3Nyx

Tartarus: I mean whatever, he’s just the actual impersonation of the deepest darkest hellishist piece of real estate in Greek mythology. You can find a nice cosmological description of him/it here. He’s not really a big deal. I mean, Percy and Annabeth don’t even fight him; they just run really, really fast up an elevator (wait what). Damasen does a good job of distracting this merciless terror of the void. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Hyperion and Krios: We’ve seen these two Titans before in the Percy Jackson series. Typical Titan story – sons of Ouranus, killed their dad with their mom’s blessing, fought the gods and lost, etc etc. Also Iapetus’ brother. Percy and Annabeth find them in Tartarus and H&K reallyyyyy want to leave. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because you’ve fought one Titan you’ve fought em all.

Clytius: Clytius was a giant and a nemesis of Hecate, goddess of magic and stuff. Hecate killed him off in the war between the gods and the giants. In THOH, as a giant and a son of Gaea, he’s ready to kill and eat some demigods. He’s one of the big bads at the end of the book but honestly all of these giants are sort of blurring together for me. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Pasiphae: Pasiphae gets a bad rap. She’s a daughter of Helios (sun-god), sister of Circe (badass witch although not a very nice girl) and marries King Minos. Minos offends the gods, and Pasiphae, PASIPHAE, not Minos, is cursed to fall in love with a bull and have a half-bull baby. In THOH, she’s a really angry, bitter, powerful witch who wants some good clean revenge. I can’t really blame her. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

 

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The House of Hades. Disney Hyperion, 2013. Print.

Tripp, Edward. The Meridian Handbook of Classical Mythology. Meridian, 1970.

See also the links above for more sources!

 

 

Myth Monday: Inuit Folklore for Dummies

I read The Jungle Books by Rudyard Kipling recently and enjoyed a story called “Quiquern” about an Inuit boy and girl. It included a number of references to Inuit folklore, and for the readalong posts I wanted to include some background information on that, but it turned out to be surprisingly difficult. In my online search for Inuit folklore in general and “quiquern” references in particular, I found:

  1. legitimate sites that weren’t in English, to my great chagrin
  2. possibly-legitimate blog posts that didn’t credit any sources which made me side-eye and look elsewhere looking for online
  3. a hundred sketchy sites that merely quoted Wikipedia in its entirety

I also noticed that the main source for the creature “quiquern” or “qiqern” was, in fact, The Jungle Books, so I’m reallyyyyyy questioning its existence.

I then took my search to where I should have begun it:

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The library had a lot of books on Inuit history and culture, which are good and relevant, but not precisely what I was looking for. They had exactly one book with “Inuit Mythology” in the title, in kids’ nonfiction. They had many picture books that retold Inuit tales (or at least claimed to).

For those of you adrift on the same ice floe as me, I’m going to share the results on my search. Obviously, I came at this topic from a place of extreme ignorance; I did my best not to spread misinformation. If you have some great sources on Inuit mythology, hook me up. Otherwise, you can check out my sources at the end of this post.

Important fact: there are lots of different Inuit tribes, just like the Native Americans of North America, but in the broadest survey they’re divided into: Central Inuit, which is mostly super far northern Canada; Alaska Inuit; and Greenland Inuit. A lot of the folktales can only be found in one of the distinct geographical swathes.

Like other mythologies, Inuit folklore and tales are deeply rooted in their religious beliefs. The core of their belief is that everything has a soul. Once a person or animal dies, their soul becomes a spirit, and it’s REALLY IMPORTANT to keep the spirits happy. If you’re dealing with a good spirit, you want to befriend them. If you’re dealing with an evil spirit, you want to not piss them off. Angatoks, or shamans, interact and communicate with spirits the most.

Often a main character will get a seal-skin, or an ermine-hat, that will allow them to transform into that animal (or at least disguise themselves?) when needed. One boy gets a beluga canoe that can go really fast and underwater when needed. Sometimes these items rely on the animal’s goodwill, other times it isn’t mentioned.

Most of the folktales involve humans dealing with animal spirits, whether dead or alive. If you’re dealing with a dead animal, especially, you want to treat its body with care. If you killed it for food, for example, there are rules on how you skin it or treat it. You don’t want its spirit to come after you later.

Inuit folklore doesn’t have a single accepted creation myth. One thing I found interesting is that the Alaska Inuit have a lot of Raven stories, similar to Raven stories in other North America native mythologies. The Alaska Inuit have some stories about Sparrow and Raven being the first, and creating the earth by forming things out of clay, including people. Raven directs the first people to kill a giant sea monster and use pieces of the carcass to create more islands for them to live on.

The mythological figure that recurred the most in my search was Sedna. She is referred to sometimes as a sea goddess, sometimes as the mother of all sea creatures. She also possibly has some role in the afterlife: CANNOT CONFIRM. Her story is pretty dark: she starts out as a human girl. The version from Greenland has a loon who tricks her into marrying him by taking on human form. Once Sedna realizes what a mistake she’s made, her dad rescues her from the loon’s island, but the loon chases after and the dad realizes what a mistake HE made.  He tosses Sedna into the ocean, but she holds tight to the boat, so he has to cut off her fingers one by one. She drowns and becomes the sea goddess; her fingers turn into sea creatures.

the_legend_of_sedna_by_sraiya
Art by Sraiya: Source

Greenland has a story about a girl who marries one of the “little people” or “gnomes” (it’s translated in different ways so I’m not sure of the exact connotation). The girl’s father has had to fight off a bunch of normal-human suitors because they’re jerks, but the gnome son-in-law wins him over and eventually the family gets to gloat a little over the girl’s previous suitors by sharing the food their gnome friend acquired for them.

Giants tend to be pretty nice dudes in these stories, rather than monsters and/or villains like I see them in other mythologies. One story I particularly loved (from the Bering Strait Inuit) is about a woman named Taku who escapes her abusive husband and befriends a giant named Kinak. Kinak looks after her for a while, and even after she returns to her husband, Kinak continues to look after her and, ahem, take care of anyone who makes her unhappy.

There are quite a few stories where family members or in-laws try to murder the main character. Women are scarce so sometimes a freeloading bachelor will come along and decide to murder her husband and “liberate” her. Another story has a boy go into some kind of berserker rage and, after killing his enemies, accidentally kills his grandmother as well. Usually the murderer or attempted murderer is punished in some way; often a murder will be “justified” because someone broke the rules of hospitality (as guest or as host).

“The Adventures of Kiviog” (Central Inuit) combines a few different common themes that I’ve touched on. The boy Kiviog is given a seal-skin by his mother, which he uses to go avenge the murder of his father (killed before Kiviog was born). After he’s completed that, he gets a little entangled with a witch, and uses his seal-skin to escape. He eventually marries a wolf-girl, who is in human form but is also a wolf???? but Kiviog’s wolfy mother-in-law gets super jealous and murders her daughter, and takes her skin as a disguise. Kiviog realizes what she’s done and escapes. If there’s a moral, I’m guessing it’s something along the lines of “humans and animals shouldn’t get too cozy.” It also implies that the treacherous wolf mother-in-law will starve to death, because she’s too weak to hunt her own food.

I’m still really ignorant of this branch of mythology but it was fun and stretching research Inuit stories. Again, if anyone can point me in the direction of some good sources, I would appreciate it.

 

Sources:

Angutinngurniq, Jose. The Giant Bear: An Inuit Folktale. Inhabit Media, 2012.

Bial, Raymond. The People and Culture of the Inuit. Cavendish Square Publishing, 2016.

Christopher, Neil. On The Shoulders of a Giant: An Inuit Folktale. Inhabit Media, 2015.

Wolfson, Evelyn. Inuit Mythology. Enslow Publishers, 2001.

 

 

 

Myth Monday: the legend-makers

Blessed are the legend-makers with their rhyme

of things nor found within record time.

It is not they that have forgot the Night,

or bid us flee to organised delight,

in lotus-isles of economic bliss

forswearing souls to gain a Circe-kiss

(and counterfeit at that, machine-produced,

bogus seduction of the twice-seduced).

 

Such isles they saw afar, and ones more fair,

and those that hear them yet may yet beware.

They have seen Death and ultimate defeat,

and yet they would not in despair retreat,

but oft to victory have turned the lyre

and kindled hearts with legendary fire,

illuminating Now and dark Hath-been

with light of suns as yet by no man seen.

-From “Mythopoeia” by J.R.R. Tolkien

Catch up on Myth Monday posts here.

Myth Monday: Monsters In The Mark of Athena

The Monsters

Eidolons: In Greek mythology, eidolons are spirits of the dead that possess people. From the stories told about them, it seems like they can be a specific dead person with a life history possessing a living person, OR it come across as a more generic possession (such as Christian stories of demons possessing people). In either case, the person being possessed isn’t aware of their situation. Fun. Sidebar: Walt Whitman wrote a poem.  In The Mark of Athena, there seem to be three specific eidolons tasked by Gaea to ruin our heroes’ lives. They possess various characters and eventually resort to possessing movable objects. Fun. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being terrifying and really hard to defend against!

Phorcys and Keto: What I love about these two is that they’re not just any old god and goddess of the sea (there are a lot of sea-deities and nymphs! SO MANY), but specifically represent the dangers of the sea and the monsters inside it. In The Mark of Athena, they’re more like caretakers or circus masters, having a vast collection of monsters that they can send after their enemies at will. In themselves, they aren’t very scary or smart. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for not taking full advantage of these cool deities.

Icthyocentaurs: Specifically named Bythos and Aphros, these are essentially fish-centaurs: kinda like mermaids but with more horsey features. They’re related to Chiron, most famousest of centaurses. I had never heard of them before and I demand more icthycentaur-centered stories! Bythos and Aphros live in colony of mer-people in The Mark of Athena, and rescue some of our heroes when they almost get eaten by a seamonster (see below). They claim to be trainers of champions, just like Chiron, only we haven’t heard of them because they’re ocean heroes. I love that Aphros doesn’t train martial arts of any kind, mostly just home ec. What a hero. 4/5 Monstrous Rating even though they’re more like precious sea creatures.

Skolopendra: This is a very large sea monster that may or may not resemble a giant crayfish. Or a giant millipede. It’s gonna be a no from me. The demigods in The Mark of Athena have to fight one and resort to blowing it up with Greek fire. Typical. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

ImagesL4DI7UW1.jpg
Skolopendra? 

Achelous: Achelous was a river-god who fought Hercules for the right to marry a beautiful maiden named Deianeira – so, yes, pretty typical myth story, especially when Hercules is involved. Achelous typically took the form of a snake or a bull but Hercules wrestles the bull-form and defeats Achelous, tearing off one of his horns in the process. This horn is turned into the Cornucopia, horn of plenty, by the river-nymphs (keep that in mind next time you watch The Hunger Games). Achelous holds a grudge, as you can imagine, and tells the whole story to Theseus later. My question is, what happened to Deianeira (answer: nothing good). In The Mark of Athena, Jason and Piper are sent on a quest by Hercules to get Achelous’ other horn because Hercules is a resentful dirt sack. In this story, Achelous is a bull with a man’s face. And yes, they get the horn. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Ephialtes & Otis: These two giants are the kind of rabble-rousing teenagers that you just have to shake your head at. They did stupid things like trapping Ares (the god of WAR, okay!) in a jar, and threatening to make a pile that would make it to heaven, and then they decided to kidnap Hera and Artemis to be their wives. Artemis ran from them in a form of a deer and tricked them into spearing each other. Because that’s what happens when you try to kidnap the maiden goddess of the hunt. I like them even less in The Mark of Athena, where they mostly fight with each other and try to one-up each other and/or their nemesis Dionysus. Being giants, however, they’re very difficult to defeat by mere demigods. Giants, man. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for the tutu.

Chrysaor: This guy has one hell of an origin. So Medusa and Poseidon hooked up that one time, right, and Athena was mad because it was in her temple, so Medusa became the Gorgon with snake-hair. When Perseus chops off Medusa’s head, two kids spring out of her head from the hook-up with Poseidon: Pegasus (yes, that Pegasus) and Chrysaor. Everyone has heard of Pegasus, almost no one has heard of Chrysaor. None of my sources can even agree on who this guy is! He might be a giant, OR he might be a winged boar. In The Mark of Athena, he is a guy with a golden mask who has turned into a pirate because he has nothing better to do and no one has heard of him. He’s REALLY good at swordplay and defeats Percy. His pirate-crew is made up of the sailors that Dionysus turned into dolphins that one time. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being really obscure and tying in some Dionysus fun-times.

Arachne: Her backstory is well-told in The Mark of Athena, but in summary: Arachne was a beautiful young woman who was extremely skilled in weaving and had a great deal of hubris (FATAL FLAW). She claims to be as good as Athena (or Minerva). Athena goes to her and warns her not to be over-confident, but instead Arachne challenges her to a contest. They both make amazing tapestries; Athena weaves images of her rivalry with Poseidon (Neptune), whereas Arachne chooses images of embarrassing moments or failures of the gods. Athena is pissed off and turns Arachne into a spider; no one is surprised. In The Mark of Athena, Arachne is a giant monster-spider, and she has been taking out her revenge on Athena’s half-mortal children for centuries. Rude. But she makes a great Big Bad. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Athena punishing Arachne Source

The Sources

Bulfinch, Thomas. Bulfinch’s Greek and Roman Mythology: The Age of Fable. Dover Thrift, 2000. Print.

Hamilton, Edith. Mythology. New American Library, 1969. Print.

Riordan, Rick. The Mark of Athena. Disney Hyperion, 2012. Print.

See also the links above for more sources!

 

Myth Monday: Eclipse Edition

As you may have noticed, we experienced an eclipse today. I live pretty close to the zone of totality, so I had a nice view of it.

Throughout the ages and throughout the whole world, people have been telling stories to explain eclipses. Humans really, really like telling stories to make sense of their lives, and especially of crazy things that happen to them,  like THE SUN GOING OUT and stuff like that.

So below is a quick list of some of the stories from different cultures/countries. Follow the links or do some research to find out more – there are way too many for one blog post!

  • There are many Native American legends, but one that I found in several places was about a boy who gets really mad at the sun for burning him, and so he gets the strongest cord he can find and uses it to trap and choke the sun. Many creatures try to rescue the sun but only the mouse is able to chew through the cord and save it. Here’s one version of it from the Menomini. All of the versions have the mouse as the hero. Other legends blame black squirrels for eclipses, but I couldn’t find a story about it.
  • Hindu mythology features a demon named Rahu, who tries to destroy the sun and moon. He is decapitated by the gods and then, depending on the version, his severed head chases after the sun and tries to eat it. I mean, you have to admire his persistence. Sometimes he manages to bite the sun, and that causes eclipses.
  • The Korean Bul-Gae, or fire dogs (awesome, right??), are also very interested in devouring the sun. They are servants of the king of the Dark World, who wants the sun and moon’s light for himself. They try to eat the sun and moon so that they can bring it to their master, but are burned or frozen by turns. Their attempts cause eclipses.
  • Norse Mythology has its own version of Bul-Gae: wolves named Skoll and Hati. These wolves fly through the sky after the sun and moon, and it is prophesied that during Ragnarok, Skoll and Hati will capture the sun and moon at last, creating an eclipse as the world ends. There’s a really good write-up on them here.
  • Last but not least, there is the myth of Amaterasu, the Japanese sun goddess. She is enmeshed in a struggle against her brother, Susano. Their rivalry escalates until they’re spawning gods and goddesses left and right, and throwing dead horses, and all kinds of similar nonsense. Eventually, Amaterasu decides she has had enough and hides herself in a cave. This causes an eclipse, which makes everyone is very upset and they decided to team up to trick her into exiting the cave.

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Amaterasu emerging from the cave. Source
I’m surprised that there aren’t more that are simply about hiding, disguising, or kidnapping the sun; most of the ones I looked at involved destroying or devouring it. I’m sure there are many more stories that I didn’t find, though. Let me know in the comments of any I missed!

Thanks to gingernifty for this week’s topic! If you have an idea for a Myth Monday topic, comment below.