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: 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!

 

 

August Reading Wrap-up

Sooooooooooooo many good reads last month! I tried something new this time to give you a better idea of what each one’s about and which ones I really loved.

Fiction

I Want This To Last Forever

More Than This by Patrick Ness (5/5 stars)

In Other Lands by Sarah Rees Brennan (5/5 stars)

Hippos In America?!

River of Teeth by Sarah Gailey (4/5 stars)

Feminist Superhero Fiction

The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne Valente (5/5 stars)

McMaster of the Novella

Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold (5/5 stars)

Rereads Are Good Reads

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater (5/5 stars)

The Dream Thieves by Maggie Stiefvater (4/5 stars)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue by Maggie Steifvater (5/5 stars)

The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan (4/5 stars)

And The Rest

A Crimson Warning by Tasha Alexander (2/5 stars)

Burn For Me by Ilona Andrews (3/5 stars)

Graphic Novels

Personal Faves

March: Book One by John Lewis (5/5 stars)

The Backstagers by James Tynion IV (5/5 stars)

Marvel

A-Force: Rage Against the Dying of the Light by Kelly Thompson (4/5 stars)

Mockingbird: I Can Explain by Chelsea Cain (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Squirrel, You Really Got Me Now by Ryan North (4/5 stars)

The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: I Kissed A Squirrel and I Liked It by Ryan North (5/5 stars)

Star Wars

Doctor Aphra by Kieron Gillen (no rating)

Poetry

The Complete Poems by Anne Sexton (4/5 stars)

Nonfiction

Beowulf, a Translation and Commentary by JRR Tolkien (4/5 stars)

 

 

 

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: 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.

Myth Monday: The Last Monster (For Now)

Previously on Myth Mondays feat. Percy Jackson monsters:

The Lightning Thief

The Sea of Monsters

The Titan’s Curse

The Battle of the Labyrinth

 

So, in The Last Olympian, the last book of the series, many of the monsters from previous books come back to make another attempt on our heroes’ health and happiness. The most prominent of these is probably the Minotaur, since it almost killed Percy’s mom in the first book, but we also see plenty of Lastreagonian giants, empousae, dracenae, and hellhounds, so I hope you enjoy those. There’s only a handful of “new” monsters. I’m going to take a look at those first, and then address some of the other villains of the book who don’t quite qualify as “monsters.”

The Monsters

Typhon the giant: Back in the olden days, the gods had a lot of big scary enemies to defeat. After they took care of the Titans (mentioned last time), the earth Titan Gaea sent a few giants, relatives of the Titans, in a last effort to destroy the gods. Typhon was one of the strongest and the scariest, and it took all of the gods to defeat him. In the Percy Jackson universe, Zeus had to drop a mountain on top of Typhon to bury and defeat him, which turns into Mt. St. Helens. Typhon awakens in The Last Olympian, causing the mountain to erupt, and then has a great time traveling across the continental United States to attack the stronghold of the gods in New York City. The gods have to unite and fight him together; the demigods like Percy don’t stand a chance and have to fight other villains. Basically Typhon is a good narrative obstacle to keep the gods from helping our heroes. 5/5 Monstrous Rating because he is apocalyptically scary.

Hyperborean giants: I’m very confused by these because in the Percy Jackson series, they are big dumb ice-giants who are recruited by the Big Bad Kronos. 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. I mean, I guess the Greeks didn’t know about the North Pole, but yeah. 2/5 Monstrous Rating because what.

The Clazmonian Sow/The Crommyonian Sow: I had to resort to Wikipedia for this one, because, wow, Rick, PRETTY OBSCURE. TCS was a giant pig that was killed by Theseus and may or may not be a metaphor for a terrible woman. I haven’t come across this reference in retellings of Theseus’ adventures, but Wikipedia’s sources are legit, so. Sows, man! In The Last Olympian, Kronos lets the TCS loose on NYC and it’s a whole thing. Giant pigs are surprisingly terrifying. 3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Drakon: The Last Olympian features a “drakon,” which Riordan differentiates from other dragons we see in the series, claiming it is bigger, nastier, “a two-hundred-foot-long serpent as thick as a school bus.” Mythology tends to play fast and loose with its monster descriptions, especially with dragons/drakons/draconian varieties, so I think making it a distinct breed is artistic license. Also, The Last Olympian has these weird parallels with The Iliad, where a couple of demigods have a similar arc to Achilles and Patroclus, which makes the drakon = Hector. Hector deserves better tbh.   3/5 Monstrous Rating.

Other Jerks of Note

The Titans: They’re the big bads of this series and we see more of them than ever in this book. They’re the ancient enemies of the gods, who replaced them, and the Titans are still pretty pissed off about it. Kronos is The Big Bad, of course, and can control Time. But we also see a lot of Krios (or Crius) and Hyperion (originally a sun god, replaced by Apollo). We saw Atlas in The Titan’s Curse, and we will see more of them in the next series.

Morpheus: Kronos recruits a lot of minor deities who feel unappreciated by the major gods to his cause. Morpheus is one of these. He is the god of dreams and the son of the God of Sleep (Somnus). In The Last Olympian, he puts NYC to sleep so that the baddies can attack Olympus without a lot of mortals getting in the way and screaming. I guess.

Nemesis: She’s the goddess of revenge (although her name is translated as Righteous Anger) and signs up for Kronos’ side. We don’t actually see her in The Last Olympian, but I’m mentioning her because she’s cool and her son, the demigod Ethan Nakamura, is a supporting character and super great and deserves better okay bye.

Hecate: She’s the goddess of the night and she is very terrifying and has many scary magical powers. She’s working for Kronos in the series and does lots of black magic for him and his dastardly plans.

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Source

Prometheus: This guy is a Titan and there are so many stories about him that it’s very confusing. Sometimes he’s the guy who created mankind, sometimes he didn’t create them but he helps them, sometimes he helps them but only to piss off the gods. Prometheus as benefactor of humanity is the most long-lasting story, including that time that Zeus punished him for giving mankind knowledge of fire by chaining him to a rock and letting an eagle peck out his liver every day. In The Last Olympian, Prometheus signs up with Kronos and is more of a Chaotic Neutral character – he seems to think that working for Kronos will ultimately help humans because the gods don’t care about them. He comes across as much more of a Trickster-archetype than he is usually portrayed which I thought was interesting.

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 Last Olympian. Disney Hyperion, 2009. Print.

 

Next month we will be starting the Heroes of Olympus series!