Day Twenty-Two of the A-to-Z Challenge in April 2017. Let’s do this.
This year there’s no linky list or form to fill out to sign up. It might be too late to join at this point (unless you were double posting), but you can always cheer/comment on participants (and find awesome bloggers) at the A-to-Z’s official blog.
Now I should warn, that I didn’t stick to the common sense rule of writing short, pithy posts. Mine are long and bloated, but I’m having fun with it. And if you wanna skim, that’s absolutely cool with me!
Leave a comment down below with your blog so I can visit I’m thrilled to be making new friends. 🙂
As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “V” post will parade some virginal goddesses. Three to be exact: Athena, Artemis and Hestia (my favorite!).
Can you tell I’m running out of ideas? “V” was a difficult letter, but I found a topic I was interested in. Considering there’s a lot of trouble surrounding gods getting jiggy with humans (or other species, *cough*nymphs*hack,cough*), it’s fascinating to see there are some gods taking a stand and going abstinent. Guess they don’t like their drama too much…or they found another outlet to take out their anger and add crazy tales to be immortalized through storytelling.
(I’m looking at you, Artemis and Athena.)
So let’s dive in.
Goddess of reason, war craft and anything to do with intelligent activity. She was also the goddess protecting Athens, for which was named for her. (Or so they say.)
Athena is Zeus’s divine daughter, and supposedly her mother was Metis, the primordial goddess of wisdom. If you remember her, she helped Zeus and his brothers out in the war against the Titans/the Titanomachy.
In other cases, she has no mother. Zeus just got a really BIG headache – likely a migraine, and then Hephaestus was fetched for. The smithy god cracked open Zeus’s forehead with an axe and out popped a fully-formed Athena.
Yeah. I want to say it doesn’t get weirder than that, but it probably does. We’re talking myths, folks. Things get dicey and axe-y.
In the other variant, Zeus swallows Metis while she’s pregnant with Zeus because he fears a prophecy that she would bear a son that would usurp Zeus (just like he did to his father, and just like Zeus’s father did to his father). A whole lot of daddy issues prompt these men to do some crazy things. Zeus pulls a Uranus and swallows Metis by tricking her to transform into a fly.
Then Zeus gets his headache and out pops Athena.
So whether an asexual product or not, Athena went on to become a well-known and well-respected goddess. She has no known consorts or offspring, and though she might not have been introduced a virgin at first, she was eventually thought to be one. Hence her epithets, Pallas and Parthenos, Greek words that mean “virgin” or “maiden”. So, she was Athena the Maiden/Virgin.
Athena wears full-body armor, although sometimes she is depicted with the head-to-toe protection. But she’s usually also seen carrying a lance and shield, and she often also wears a helmet. Lady-god is always ready for battle.
Athena was once courted by Hephaestus, but since Greek gods don’t have an ounce of patience (or the gods’ equivalent of human milk of compassion), the smithy god tried to rape her. Athena was only in his workshop to get new weapons made (or something fixed), and then she fled his amorous (and seriously evil) intentions.
Apparently Hephaestus chased her, caught her and managed to smear semen on her thigh. She managed to get out of his hold and wipe the offending seed off her body, throwing the besmirched cloth to the floor. From there Erichthonius was born, an autochthonous (born of soil) baby who would go on to be a king.
Because in Greek mythology you can just grow your babies in the backyard, right between your seasonal vegetables.
Goddess of the hunt, the moon, chastity, and archery. She was the twin sister of Apollo, and born to Zeus and his nymph lover, Leto. We heard Leto’s story, now let’s talk a bit about 1/2 of her progeny, Artemis.
She asked her father, Zeus, to grant her eternal chastity, rejecting marriage and love and baby-making activities.
Artemis was a bit loony. She was totally cool with ladies – heck, she had an entourage of nymphs, all skilled hunters, stalking through Grecian woods with her. Oddly, for a goddess against love, marriage and family (basically everything Hera stood for), wild Artemis was often a protector of pregnant women and their babies. She also, supposedly, helped ease with pregnancy pains.
So while she was a champion of women, she was not in a lot of male-friendly myths. Take, for instance, the tale of Artemis and Actaeon.
Now Actaeon was either Artemis’s hunting companion (really?! how old was he? I mean, he is a he) or he was a wandering hunter who came upon her party.
Either way, Actaeon ended up sighting Artemis in the buff while she was bathing in the woods. Now depending on what variant you’re reading, he’s 1) taken by her beauty and decides he HAS to have her, or 2) maybe he steps on a twig, and Artemis notices him…
Sadly, it doesn’t go down like this at all.
If only Artemis just gave him a wrist slap.
Instead she turns Actaeon into a stag who is then devoured by his own hounds. Such a brutal end – especially if it’s the version where he didn’t try to rape her.
Then there’s Orion.
Now he actually was loved by Artemis. Shocker, I know.
Orion was a handsome, mortal hunter, he had gone to train or live with Artemis (you know, as one of her retinue). Poor Orion dies too, and he might have been killed by 1) Artemis, for trying to rape the goddess, 2) Apollo, who get a little jelly that his sister was in love, or 3) a scorpion stung him and he died of the lethal poison.
He does have a forever home in the skies where he’s being chased by Scorpio.
Miss Goddess of the Hearth and all things domestic, and she remains a “miss”, although supposedly the wallflower of Olympian goddesses had her offers for her hand in marriage. PFFT. Like the Greek gods actually believed in upholding their marital vows. Seriously though…
Anyways, Hestia had intrigued both Poseidon and Apollo (yippee! a choice between her brother and her nephew, the joy!), which led to her requesting eternal chastity from her brother, Zeus. Much like Artemis, she signed up for the permanent chastity belt. Maybe they get a 2-for-1 deal?
Now she was purported almost rapped by Priapus, a minor deity who had a major phallus. After a party of debauchery up in Olympus, everyone was passed out. Or, in one other variant, Hestia herself hosted a forest party.
However it went down, Hestia wasn’t drunk, but she went to rest herself at the end of the party. Then a drunk, horny Priapus came across her. He decided he’d like some action with the virgin-goddess, but she was saved by the braying of a donkey. She startled awake by the noise from the donkey and found Priapus trying to lower himself onto her. “She screamed.[…] And Priapus got scared and skittered away so Hestia’s virginity was retained.” (source)
FUN FACT: Supposedly Hestia was the eldest of the six original Olympians (i.e. Zeus being the youngest). But then her father, Cronus swallowed her and Poseidon, Hades, Hera and Demeter. When Cronus vomited his offspring out, Hestia was the last to be regurgitated. Thus, she earned the title of being both the oldest and the youngest of the six siblings.
Now Hestia was all about the hearth. So even after she stepped down for Dionysus and allowed him to take her seat at the big, adult Olympian table, she still had a job to do – and she was important to ancient Grecian life.
No family was allowed to extinguish the hearth, not unless a proper ritual decreed it. The hearth protected the family. When a child was born, it was introduced to its home by being carried near the ever-burning hearth. Her name was invoked at the start and end of a meal. She was the one who transferred sacrifices from humans to the gods, and making sure the peaceful connection remained. As one source puts it, she “represented communal security and personal happiness.”
So retired life for Hestia wasn’t much of a walk in the park. She had her duties, and she happily sought to them.
She was like the Cinderella who wanted to be Cinderella…
So, what did we learn?
MORAL: Wining and dining go a long way, gentleman. Also, it could help you avoid the wrath of mercurial goddesses. Or at least the shame of making history as rapists.
Sources that helped me with this post:
Check them out when you have time!