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.

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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.

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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.

Myth Monday: From a Certain Point of View

Oh no you think this post is about Star Wars, don’t you? It’s not*. It’s about mythology. And poetry. And how some things depend greatly on our point of view.

I’ve been reading Anne Sexton’s collected poems (like you do) and wow she is a complicated person. One of her collections, Transformations, looks at old fairy tales from different angles than we’re used to (if you like the Brothers Grimm, I recommend it, it’s really interesting) and some of her other poems are myth-related or responses to myths. I want to take a look at a couple of the latter and how they make us look at some standard Greek myths in a different way.

*seriously it’s not about Star Wars at all, everyone has already written about Star Wars and mythology, I can’t do it, I won’t do it, looooooooove Bahnree.

“Where I Live In This Honorable House Of The Laurel Tree”

I live in my wooden legs and O
my green green hands.
Too late
to wish I had not run from you, Apollo,
blood moves still in my bark bound veins.
I, who ran nymph foot to foot in flight,
have only this late desire to arm the trees
I lie within. The measure that I have lost
silks my pulse. Each century the trickeries
of need pain me everywhere.
Frost taps my skin and I stay glossed
in honor for you are gone in time. The air
rings for you, for that astonishing rite
of my breathing tent undone within your light.
I only know how untimely lust has tossed
flesh at the wind forever and moved my fears
toward the intimate Rome of myth we crossed.
I am a fist of my unease
as I spill toward the stars in the empty years.
I build the air with the crown of honor; it keys
my out of time and luckless appetite.
You gave me honor too soon, Apollo.
There is no one left who understands
how I wait
here in my wooden legs and O
my green green hands.

Apollo, the god of healing, prophecy, and the sun, once fell in love with a nymph named Daphne, the daughter of a river-god. Daphne was a huge fan of Diana (or Artemis) , the maiden goddess of the hunt. Daphne wasn’t interested in marriage, and rejected all suitors, but of course one day Apollo spotted her hunting in the woods and fell madly in love with her. Daphne tries to escape him, but he chases after her, and at last she begs her father for help, and he turns her into a laurel tree. Daphne would rather be a tree forever than give in to Apollo, and when the story is retold it’s always about her unwillingness and his obsessiveness.

However, in this poem Daphne seems to regret her escape and now views it as a prison. She’s upset about her “wooden legs” and “green hands” because they’re not made of flesh, they’re trapping her blood inside. Everything about her is frozen: “Frost taps my skin” and her real body is “glossed” over. The poem implies that given the choice again, Daphne would totally bang Apollo, as she’s spent much of her time obsessing over him and her previous choice. Now she has a “late desire” and “luckless appetite” that she can’t act on even if she wanted to; it’s ironic because Apollo took her agency first by trying to force himself on her, but now she seems to be accusing herself of taking her agency by locking herself in a tree. Now she has honor but nothing else, and “the crown of honor,” i.e. the laurel crown that is given to champions (a tradition started by Apollo because he loves laurel trees).

This poem is tricky because it doesn’t seem to judge Apollo (it SHOULD judge Apollo, he needs to learn some hard facts about consent), but it also empowers Daphne by showing her as a person who made her own choices (even if she comes to regret them).

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Laurel wreath Source

“To a Friend Whose Work Has Come to Triumph”

Consider Icarus, pasting those sticky wings on,
testing that strange little tug at his shoulder blade,
and think of that first flawless moment over the lawn
of the labyrinth. Think of the difference it made!
There below are the trees, as awkward as camels;
and here are the shocked starlings pumping past
and think of innocent Icarus who is doing quite well.
Larger than a sail, over the fog and the blast
of the plushy ocean, he goes. Admire his wings!
Feel the fire at his neck and see how casually
he glances up and is caught, wondrously tunneling
into that hot eye. Who cares that he fell back to the sea?
See him acclaiming the sun and come plunging down
while his sensible daddy goes straight into town.

Icarus and his father the inventor Daedalus were imprisoned by King Minos of Crete, because Minos was convinced that Daedalus had allowed his Athenian prisoners to escape. Daedalus crafted wings for himself and his son so that they could fly out of their prison, the Labyrinth (which Daedalus had also invented) and get away from Crete. Everything went fine until they were in the air, and Icarus decided to fly to the sun. The sun burned up his wings and left him to plunge to his death in the ocean. We judge him for his hubris and warn others against similar acts. The myth of Icarus is generally held up as a warning against arrogance, recklessness, and/or attempting to do or get something that is out of your reach.

This poem, however, applauds Icarus, and I dig it. Whereas “his sensible daddy” Daedalus keeps his focus on escaping from Crete and “goes straight to town,” Icarus forms a higher goal, one that isn’t for his own personal safety but for something bigger than that. This poem admires the risk Icarus took, admires his daring in “acclaiming the sun.” Everything else besides Icarus that is mentioned in the poem is “awkward,” “shocked,” and” sensible.” Icarus is the one who seizes his own agency and uses it; he glances up, not down or forward or back, and dies from “wondrously tunneling” toward his goal.

I don’t know the context for the friend that Sexton seems to be directing this poem to, but she (or at least the poem’s narrator) is valuing and praising Icarus’ choices rather than warning against them. There are worse things than dying in a blaze of glory, after all.

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The Lament for Icarus by H.J. Draper Source

 

Myth Monday: Rick Riordan Presents

If you, like me, love mythology retellings, you may or may not be thrilled about a new imprint starting soon: Rick Riordan Presents.

Rick Riordan, of course, has written several different series and spin-offs of mythology retellings for middle grade/young adult; these are mostly centered around Greek mythology but also feature Roman, Norse, and Egyptian myths.

If you read my blog and Myth Monday posts, you’ve probably guessed I’m a huge fan of his work.

However, Riordan can only write so many books, and he doesn’t feel comfortable writing a lot of world mythology that he isn’t as familiar with or that he may be accused of appropriating. SO! As a result, we get Rick Riordan Presents. This imprint (i.e. tiny publisher sub-division) will publish books for fans of Rick Riordan’s work. The books will be stories about other mythologies that Riordan hasn’t explored, and will be chosen by Riordan and his editor, Steph* Lurie. Their intention is to choose books that, while not the same as Riordan’s work, or featuring the same legends, will have the same appeal and accessibility.

If you aren’t excited yet, wait until you hear the titles and authors for RRP’s first three books, coming out in 2018:

  • Aru Shah and the End of Time: This is written by Roshani Chokshi. Aru Shah is aimed at middle grade readers and is based on Hindu mythology. It has been described as “Percy Jackson meets Sailor Moon” which fills me with giddy joy.I’m already a big fan of hers, having read The Star-Touched Queen (which I reviewed here and is also a reimagining of Hindu mythology).
  • Storm Runner: This is written by Jennifer Cervantes and will be based on Mayan mythology. I haven’t read any of Cervantes’ work but I also know almost nothing about Mayan mythology and I’m ready to expand my myth repertoire.
  • Dragon Pearl: This is written by Yoon Ha Lee. He wrote a book called Ninefox Gambit which I’ve heard really good things about (it’s on my giant tbr, shhhhh). Dragon Pearl will be based on Korean mythology but apparently it will also have science fiction elements, which, just, AHHHHH? I am so excited for space myth crazytimes.

 

You can read Rick Riordan’s FAQ on RRP here.

MORE ON THIS STORY AS IT DEVELOPS.

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*Steph! What a great name. There are some really great Stephs out there. I mean what**.
** (my name is Stephanie. That’s it, that’s the joke.)

Myth Monday: Monsters in The Son of Neptune

The Monsters

The gorgons: We saw the gorgon Medusa in The Lightning Thief. The infamous Medusa had two sisters named Euryale and Stheno. All three of them were gorgons, monster-ladies with snakes for hair and usually part-serpent bodies. Medusa had an extra-special curse that turned people to stone if they looked at her. Euryale and Stheno are just terrifying and will probably eat you. The Son of Neptune opens with the two of them chasing Percy, partly for fun and partly to avenge their sister. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for their Bargain Mart disguise.

Karpoi: The karpoi (or carpi) are spirits of the grain/fruit. They work primarily for Demeter/Ceres (goddess of agriculture, etc) and Gaea (Titan of the Earth). They’re depicted as infants, kinda like little angry cupids that grow plants. Gaea recruits them to her side in The Son of Neptune by promising them all the land they need to grow ALL the grains! They’re really annoying, angry, and tiny, but I like watching them argue about which grain is best. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Gaea and the Carpi: Source
Gegenes the Earthborn: These are six-armed giants from Greek mythology, not Roman, which is confusing because why are they in this Percy Jackson series? Whatever. The Argonauts (Jason and Co. who went after the Golden Fleece) had to fight them. They’re part of Gaea’s army but so far haven’t done anything else. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Cyclopes: We saw these guys in Sea of Monsters. Cyclopes are one-eyed giants, and while they seem to be herdsmen when in their own country, Zeus and Hephaestus use them as workmen at their forges. They supposedly forged Zeus’ famous thunderbolts, but they also seem to enjoy eating humans when the opportunity arises. I like how Riordan gives us the good and bad extremes of Cyclopes, since the myths seem undecided on them, but the cyclopes in TLH are pretty monstrous. The scene where they try to cook and eat Jason and his friends reminds me a lot of Bilbo and the trolls in The Hobbit. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty terrifying but also pretty dumb and over done.

Centaurs: We saw centaurs in the last series of Percy Jackson books, but in this series they’re the Roman version of Centaurs. Roman Centaurs have a greater tendency to murder all your men and rape all your women and steal all of your stuff, as opposed to the hero-trainer Chiron or other Greek centaurs that can be really drunk and out of control but not usually as violent. Percy Jackson is PRETTY UPSET to find that the centaurs are allying themselves with Gaea in The Son of Neptune. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Polybotes: Polybotes is a giant and happens to be a (im)mortal enemy of Poseidon (Percy’s dad). He’s 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. He’s a Big Bad in The Son of Neptune, leading an army to attack Camp Jupiter (home of the Roman demigods including Frank and Hazel). 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Alcyoneus: Yet another giant, and a son of Gaea, Alcyoneus was said to be invincible in his home territory. He fought Hercules, who only managed to kill him by shooting him and then dragging him out of his territory to die. Cold, Hercules. The heroes in The Son of Neptune employ a similar tactic against him. That being said, he is pretty terrifying, and Gaea goes to a lot of effort to bring him back from the dead. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Basilisks: Basilisks are not terrifying giant dragons, like you may have been led to believe, but relatively small snakes. They’re super poisonous, able to wither plants with only their breath, and obviously their venom is super lethal to anyone. In The Son of Neptune, Frank has to fight three of them while they’re hiding in tall grass. 4/5 Monstrous Rating because deadliness>size.

Arion: Arion is the son of Neptune/Poseidon and Ceres/Demeter. At some point Poseidon decided he was in love with Demeter, and even though she ran away and turned herself into a horse to escape him, he decided to turn into a horse himself to get what he wanted because he’s terrible (gods are sometimes cool and sometimes The Worst). Their son Arion is an immortal horse and had famous riders including Hercules. In The Son of Neptune, he decides Hazel is the best (because she is) and allows her to ride him. He’s super fast and super powerful and will bite your hand off if he doesn’t like you. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Harpies: Harpies are wind-spirits, similar to the venti that we saw in The Lost Hero, but these ones take the form of bird-human hybrids (usually they look like birds except for their human heads. Yikes.). They like to eat other people’s food. I usually only see harpies portrayed as monsters so it was fun to have a sympathetic supporting harpy character, Aella, in The Son of Neptune. She has a photographic memory and has read a lot of books, so she is endlessly helpful. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

Laestrygonians: You can experience these guys in all their violent glory in The Odyssey. Odysseus’ crew reaches a very promising-looking island, until they’re chased off by giants who throw rocks at them. In The Son of Neptune, Gaea tells them that if they eat Frank they will receive his superpowers, so they encircle Frank’s family mansion and lob it with fireballs. If you didn’t notice, there are SO MANY species of mythic giants  and almost all of them want to eat you. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Spartus/skeleton warrior: Sometimes known as the Sparti/Spartoi, the hero Jason had to face these scary dudes during the Argonauts’ quest for the Golden Fleece. When the Argonauts reach the land of King Aetes and ask him for the Golden Fleece, the king can’t turn them down outright because they’ve become his guests. So he tells Jason that he has to perform a task for him: yoke some fire-breathing bronze oxen, sow a field with dragon-teeth, and kill the crop of armed men that spring up. Jason is a little taken aback by this very specific and lethal request, but he’s the one who signed up for the quest, after all. In The Son of Neptune, the demigod Frank gets a spear on loan from the god Mars which gives Frank the power to summon a spartus three times to fight his enemies. It was cool to bring these guys back to use on the good guy’s side, although Frank probably should trust his spartus too much. 5/5 Monstrous Rating.

Gryphons: Gryphons or griffins usually have the body of a lion and the wings and head of an eagle. There are some variations, and in The Son of Neptune the gryphons that attack our heroes have the body of black panthers rather than lions. I don’t really know why except to be scarier, maybe? I can’t find any evidence of actual myth griffins with panther bodies, but it seems reasonable. Apollo likes to ride griffins probably because, let’s face it, they are very cool-looking. 4/5 Monstrous Rating.

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Apollo on a Gryphon: Source

Hyperborean giants: In mythology, the land of the Hyperboreans was far to the north and inaccessible to normal humans, but it was apparently a super great, heavenly place that was always springtime. In The Son of Neptune, Percy and his friends come across a few of them in Alaska: they’re huuuuuuge, blue, and not very smart, but basically harmless like giant blue frost-breathing cows or something. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because I want to be friends with them.

The Reborn

Phineas/Phineus: Phineas was a little too good at predicting the future, so Zeus cursed him to be haunted by harpies. These harpies would steal his food no matter what, so that Phineas could never eat. He was rescued from the harpies by the Argonauts. In The Son of Neptune, Gaea has brought him back to life and he is working for her with his prophecies.

Otrera: Otrera was the first queen of the Amazons. Depending on the story, she is either Ares/Mars’ wife or daughter (yikes how do those get confused?). She is killed by the hero Bellerophon (he notably killed the Chimera, and befriended Pegasus). In The Son of Neptune, Gaea brings her back to life to work for her, and Otrera is attempting to take over the queenship of the Amazons again.

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 Son of Neptune. Disney Hyperion, 2011. Print.

See also the links above for more sources!

Myth Monday: Monsters in The Lost Hero

We finished off the monster recaps for Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Today we’re going to look at The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan, the first book in his Heroes of Olympus series. Whereas the previous series is based off of Greek mythology, this series uses Roman mythology. In many ways, the Roman gods and characters match up with Greek counterparts. This is because the Romans tried to meld their mythology with that of the Greeks, because the Greeks were trending and the Romans wanted in on those pageviews.

The Monsters

Venti: The venti (Greek anemoi) are essentially wind-spirits, and range in authority and power. Fun fact: if you mate a nice venti to a nice harpy, you get a horse. I didn’t see that one coming. A single venti is a ventus. In The Lost Hero (TLH), the main characters (demigods Jason, Piper, and Leo) are attacked by venti while at Wilderness School (a fun place for juvenile delinquents). Throughout the book Jason and Co. come across many venti, some who are causing mischief, some working for the bad guys, and some working for the gods (the good guys?). See below for some named venti characters.

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Boreas Source

Boreas: He is the North Wind and in charge of all the cold, blustery winter venti. He’s typically shown as an old bearded dude with a bad temper. In TLH, the heroes go to him to discuss the whole venti-trying-to-kill-them issue. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for not telling them much but giving a thousand vague ominous hints. He also has a bad habit of icing demigods (literally).

Calais and Zethes: Otherwise known as the Boreads, these two are sons of Boreas. They also sailed with the original Jason (not the TLH protagonist) on the Argos during the quest for the Golden Fleece. Calais and Zethes are depicted in TLH as winged thugs who love winter sports. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty nice guys, just kind of dumb.

Khione: Khione is a snow nymph, or possibly a snow-goddess. She’s a daughter of Boreas, and not to be confused with ANOTHER Khione who is a consort of Boreas. In TLH she is ice-cold and terrifying, and will probably kiss you and then freeze you to death. Or both at once. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being wicked awesome.

Cyclopes: We saw these guys in Sea of Monsters. Cyclopes are one-eyed giants, and while they seem to be herdsmen when in their own country, Zeus and Hephaestus use them as workmen at their forges. They supposedly forged Zeus’ famous thunderbolts, but they also seem to enjoy eating humans when the opportunity arises. I like how Riordan gives us the good and bad extremes of Cyclopes, since the myths seem undecided on them, but the cyclopes in TLH are pretty monstrous. The scene where they try to cook and eat Jason and his friends reminds me a lot of Bilbo and the trolls in The Hobbit. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty terrifying but also pretty dumb and over done.

Medea: Medea is one of my favorite mythological characters. I recommend reading (or watching) Medea by Euripides for the iconic version of her story. She is a powerful sorceress and priestess of Hecate. She helps Jason (of the Argonauts/Golden Fleece fame) escape from her own family, betraying them to do so, and marries him and has kids and EVERYTHING IS FINE except then Jason wants to marry someone else. Medea reacts as many jilted ladies do by assassinating her rival, her rival’s dad, and then murdering her own children and telling Jason all about it. Jason is like, “Babe, you overreacted,” and everything is terrible. In TLH  all of the baddies are escaping Tartarus because of Plot Reasons (see Gaea, below (PUN INTENDED)) including Medea. She remakes herself as the proprietor of a big department store specializing in used goods (taken from dead heroes and warriors, as far as we can tell). She uses her magic to brainwash Leo and Jason but she wasn’t expecting PIPER F. MCLEAN. 5/5 Monstrous Rating for being terrifying and also a little sympathetic.

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Medea flying the hell out of Corinth Source

Midas and Lityerses: These dudes are some of the worst. King Midas won a favor from Dionysus/Bacchus by being very hospitable to one of his satyrs. Midas asked that he could have the ability to turn anything to gold only by touching it. He did not think this one through. Dionysus granted his wish, and Midas couldn’t touch anything without it turning to gold, so he couldn’t eat or drink. Once Midas realized the gravity of the situation, he begged Dionysus to take the gift back. Midas had to bathe in a specific river, and then his gift was taken away. Lityerses was an illegitimate son of Midas, and was one of those losers that stands by the road and challenges passersby to….harvesting challenges? They would always lose, and Lityerses would always kill them, until this guy Hercules came along. Lityerses was finally beaten and killed.

So yeah, nice guys. In TLH, Jason and Co. accidentally wander/break into their house, and are almost turned into gold by Midas, who is working for the bad guys (of course). He’s apparently unlearned all of the valuable lessons Dionysus taught him. 3/5 Monstrous Rating for mostly being REALLY ANNOYING.

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. In TLH, Lycaon and his fellow werewolves are contrasted with Lupa and her wolves, the patron spirits of Rome; Lycaon serves the bad guys and wants to kill Jason and Co, whereas Lupa and her tough-love scheme tries to help them. 4/5 Monstrous Rating for being pretty darn monstrous.

Enceladus and Porphyrion: Enceladus and Porphyrion are two of the giants who fought for the Titans, and sons of Gaea (Titan of the earth). Enceladus is traditionally a big enemy of the goddess Athena. They’re the big bads of TLH; Enceladus is defeated by Jason and Zeus working together, as giants can only be killed from a god and a demigod teaming up. Porphyrion is raised from Tartarus by all the baddies working together, and is still out there somewhere being giant and overpowered. 3/5 Monstrous Rating because we’ve seen giants before and they weren’t particularly interesting.

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. In TLH, she’s asleep, but slowly waking, in part because her son Kronos was killed in the last series and she’s PISSED. To Be Continued, probably. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because a face/lady made of dirt showing up persistently in your nightmares sounds extremely Unsettling.

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 Lost Hero. Disney Hyperion, 2010. Print.