#AtoZChallenge (2017 edition): Challenge Aftermath

I survived the A to Z, and I’m posting this late, but I’d still like to reflect on April’s crazy month of blogging. (Crazy for me at least.)

I’ve been doing the A to Z since 2015, and the first year was a crazy slapdash of creating posts on the day of, so I changed it up last year. I started writing my posts early and I had them all finished and ready to go by April 1st. This year I decided I needed to do that again if I had any hopes of getting to The End and not tearing out my hair from the frustration.

Luckily, I chose a theme I was interested in. One thing I enjoyed was I learned something new in writing every post. It was fun, too. Always a bonus.

If I do end up doing this again next year, I’ve already got my theme set aside. This year I scrambled for an idea (after sticking to movies for two years in a row). Hey, mayeb I’ll even starting writing the posts later this year, so I’m not rushing around to get it all done in March.

But right now, I need a long rest from thinking about posting back to back like that.

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How did your April run if you participated in the #AtoZChallenge?

If you weren’t participating, did you make it around to some (if not all) the blogs? A lot of cool, innovative themes were floating around… Never too late to backtrack and check out those posts.

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#AtoZChallenge (2017): Z is for Zeus

Day Twenty-Six 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. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “Z” post features the god of Olympian gods – the king of the mountain who doesn’t need a-drum-roll-when-he-can-wield-thunder, Zeus.

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Look at me. Even my beard is all stabby-like.

Can you tell I barely bothered to search for another “Z” option?

Well, yeah. There’s plenty of Zeus-related material out there. But that’s also why this post is going to be hard. What do I choose to focus about? I talked some of his lovers, and I’m not really in the mood to venture into that topic again. *yawn* So the dude couldn’t keep his lightning bolts in his pants (or up his chiton), snoozefest.

So let’s talk those times Zeus sort of screwed humanity. That sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

Let’s begin with the tale of Pandora.

She was the first human created, also the first woman.

The actual “whole opening the box and unleashing doom and hope” has some pretty convoluted material out there, but let’s see if I can untangle this correctly.

So, there were two brothers, both of them Titans, the good kind because this is post-Titanomachy. These brothers, Prometheus and the younger, foolish Epimetheus, were a soft-hearted duo, and hardly as whimsically ruthless as most the Olympian gods. Anyways, Prometheus was crafty, a trickster god with a gold heart. He created an original race of man and he cared for them, like a good creator (and unlike Zeus, who couldn’t give his godly behind about what happened to humans).

Anyways, the good Titans not punished by Zeus gathered on Mt. Olympus to decide who should get the better share of sacrifices. Prometheus tricked Zeus out of the greater share of meat when humans sacrificed animals to the Olympian gods. So the gods would be left with bones. (Haha.)

Then Prometheus decided to steal some fire for his little humans.

Angered by this outrage, Zeus’s fury translated into his own cunning revenge. But first, he had to chain Prometheus up. Tying the Titan to a rock, he left him there to have an eagle pecking out his liver, only to have the liver renewed at the end of the day for the oh-so-painful cycle to repeat. Funny enough, Prometheus is later rescued by Hercules, Zeus’s – allegedly – favorite mortal kid. (Guess that’s Zeus’s way of saying “you’ve been tortured enough”).

So while Prometheus was chained up, Zeus zeroed his attention on the less brighter half of the Titan brothers, Epimetheus. Sending for Hephaestus, he had the smithy god craft a “daughter” for Zeus, one made of clay.

Not sure what material Prometheus’s human race was made of, but there’s the clay Adam and Eve were also supposedly made from.

And all the other gods got in the human-making (slash pottery) party. “She was then given gifts from all the Olympian gods. Aphrodite gave to her unparalleled beauty, grace and desire. Hermes, the messenger god, gave her a cunning, deceitful mind and a crafty tongue. Athena clothed her and taught her to be deft with her hands. Poseidon bestowed on her a pearl necklace that would prevent her from drowning. Apollo taught her to play the lyre and to sing. Zeus gave her a foolish, mischievous and idle nature and last but not least, Hera gave her the wiliest gift, curiosity.” (source)

I’m still stuck on Poseidon’s gift: a pearl necklace that prevents her from drowning…for what? A wrathful, divine-decreed deluge?

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Getting me nervous here.

Anyways, she was sent as a bride to Epimetheus. Epimetheus lived down there with his brother’s humans. Pandora brought along a beautifully ornate storage jar (not a box!) with her. She was not to open the box, which sort of should have been the point when she said “Okay, I don’t want it then.”

Anyways, her curiosity (thanks Hera!) gets the better of her and she opens that sucker.

Out pours all the vileness plaguing the Earth today (i.e. violence, rage, hunger, disease, etc.). All but Hope (Elpis) comes soaring out last from the vase.

MORAL: That’s why humans have a steadfast nature. Stick in there. It’s not like it’s your fault that jar was opened.

Moving on to what happened some time after…

Remember that deluge I mentioned?

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Well, I’m sure Pandora wasn’t alive for it, so that necklace from Poseidon went to waste. And it seems like Pyrrha, Pandora’s daughter, didn’t need it either.

Pyrrha, whose name means fire, “was the first child born of a mortal mother.” Neat, right? I guess all woman and babies were made by Prometheus up until that point. It’s like humans 1.0 were upgraded.

Pyrrha went on to marry her first cousin, Deucalion, the son of Prometheus. When the jar of evils (and lone hope!) was opened, it eventually led Zeus to realize just how whacked Prometheus’s creations were down there under Mt. Olympus. He decided a good, ole, pre-monotheistic cleansing was needed.

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Time to get to work destroying the human race.

Deucalion realized that there would be a flood (or Zeus spared him, so he sent news that there would be a mass genocide occurring, and to take cover). Deucalion built a chest large enough for him and his wife, Pyrrha. Tucking them in, they waited out the 9-day mass flood.

When it was over, Zeus called for Pyrrha and Deucalion, as the remaining “humans” (they weren’t really fully human…) to repopulate the empty world. So they were given some magical stones to toss over their shoulders to create a new race of men and women.

But it’s not like that flood cleansed the world of the so-called evils that poured out Pandora’s jar. Just sayin’. It was a pointless move, Zeus.

MORAL: Think through your actions. I mean, what is really the end purpose? I’m looking at you here, Zeus.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.theoi.com/Olympios/Zeus.html

http://www.greeka.com/greece-myths/pandora.htm

http://www.theoi.com/Heroine/Pandora.html

http://greece.mrdonn.org/greekgods/pandora.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Deucalion/deucalion.html

http://greece.mrdonn.org/greekgods/zeusflood.html

http://www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/deucalion-myth-great-flood-greece-00259

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): Y is for Youthful Love & Demise

Day Twenty-Five 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. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “Y” post shines a light on the beauty and fatality of youth, especially mortal-blooded youth.

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Hebe, goddess of Youth (and probably a bowl of nectar and some ambrosia in that vase.

There’s something about being beauty that goes hand-in-hand with tragedy in Greek mythology. There’s Medusa, who was supposed to have been beautiful… And there’s Narcissus, who was so beautiful he was ended up being cursed to fall in love with his reflection and drown in his obsessive love.

There was a goddess of youth. There she is above, Hebe, the goddess of eternal youth and also the ex-cupbearer of the gods. She used to personally serve them ambrosia and nectar, the drink and food of the gods.

But the kind of youth I’m talking about is tragic beauty and youth that usually follows characters who are both young, beautiful and talented. Hubris is a big part of the tragedy, but sometimes it feels more like their beauty is the fire that’s attracting the moths – in this case meddling, mercurial gods.

So let’s take a gander at the stories of some tragic, gorgeous lovers from Greek mythology.

Adonis:

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Adonis was supposedly a transplant deity from Phoenicia. He was a beautiful mortal youth in Greek mythology. Adonis was the incest product of his mother, Myrrha and her father, King Theias. Myrrha might have loved her father a bit too much… She seduced him without his knowing who he took to his bed, but when he found out, he had intended to kill her.

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See that eye twitch.

 

Myrrha was saved by the gods when her prayers to be transformed and hidden forever were heard. She was changed into a myrrh tree. Pregnant, she bore Adonis this way.

Then Adonis was found by the goddess Aphrodite, and (not entirely maternal) she pawned him off to be reared by Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, goddess of spring.

Adonis grew to be really handsome, and so Aphrodite came a-knocking, hoping to sweep him off his feet and bring him over to living with her. But Persephone supposedly fell in love with her “adopted” son, and she wouldn’t part with Adonis, so the two goddesses fought like cats in heat.

Zeus broke it up by playing schedule-master.

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Zeus had Adonis moving home between Persephone and Aphrodite; for one-third of the year he lived with Persephone, one-third with Aphrodite, and the other third he could choose who he wanted to stay with…and Adonis liked Aphrodite more, so he spent two-thirds of the year with her. In another variant, he chose to spend one-third “being at his own disposal” (source).

Adonis died being gored by a bull, purportedly sent by Artemis who was avenging the death of Hippolytus, Theseus’s hunter son, who supposedly decided to stop worshiping Aphrodite and live a chaste existence with the worship of Artemis. Aphrodite killed Hippolytus, so Artemis killed Adonis. Another variant mentions Artemis being jealous of Adonis’s skill as a hunter and killing him for it.

And sometimes it isn’t even Artemis’s fault. But Ares, who was Aphrodite’s lover and who jealously sent a bull to gore Adonis.

Now Adonis was so beloved by Aphrodite, he was either immortalized into a flower (as some mortal lovers are by their god-du-jour) or Aphrodite begged Zeus to have Adonis pull a Persephone, where he spent half the year in the Underworld and half the year in the world of light and the living.

Helen of Sparta:

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I talked Helen a bit during Odysseus‘s post.

But to recap, Helen of Troy was not of Troy initially, and I don’t know if she ever really was. She was a beautiful, and some of that beauty is attributed to her being a demigoddess as she might have been Zeus’s daughter.

She was married to Menelaus, a Spartan king, who won her by drawing straws (Odysseus’s idea). No clue if Helen was happy to be with Menelaus, but she was abducted by Paris of Troy who got the go-ahead from Aphrodite when she promised him the most beautiful woman as his wife.

But what happened to her when the long-drawn Trojan war ended?

There are many endings to her tale.

She either stayed by Paris’s side, and during the war, she had his children – none of them surviving past infancy. After she married Paris’s brother, but then when her husband came for her, she plotted with him to kill Paris’s brother and the couple fled to Sparta together.

In some cases she arrived to Sparta alone to beg for her husband’s forgiveness, and he planned to cut her down for her unfaithfulness, but she disrobed and her beauty disarmed him – literally. They reconciled, and she lived out her days as Queen of Sparta once more.

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She might have lived out the rest of her life in Egypt, where Menelaus may or may not have fetched her.

Or maybe she’s in the Underworld, supposedly where she followed Achilles…perhaps to atone for her part in the Trojan war (#notherfaultatall).

Ganymede:

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Coming around full circle here to wrap this post up, we have Ganymede. The beautiful mortal prince who caught Zeus’s eye (in a surprise twist, because HELLO, that Zeus was pretty much all about the nymphs).

Ganymede was a Trojan prince, and the son of King Tros, the namesake of Troy itself.

Ganymede was spied by Zeus and the king of Mt. Olympus sent down an eagle to pluck the boy from the mortal realm. And since Ganymede’s father mourned his abduction, Zeus decided to compensate Ganymede for “two storm footed horses” (source) sent along with Hermes.

Ganymede went on to replace Hebe as the cupbearer of the gods. In some cases Hebe was either leaving her post to marry Hercules with the blessing of Zeus, or she tripped and split her robe, baring her breasts to Apollo, and he was outraged enough to have her fired and replaced.

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Now Ganymede was liked by all gods up on Mt. Olympus, except for Hera. She had beef (or nectar) with him because he was another lover of Zeus, and one that was freely parading around in front of her.

Zeus, wanting to appease Hera, goddess of nagging, waved his hand and transformed Ganymede into constellation Aquarius, the water-barrier. (He also probably found a way to visit his lover in the sky, I’m sure. Zeus is crafty when it comes to his extra-marital affairs.)

MORAL: Consider marring your face if you’re sucked into a Greek mythology. Or just hiding out for the rest of your life.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Hebe/hebe.html

http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Hebe.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Adonis-Greek-mythology

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Minor_Gods/Adonis/adonis.html

http://www.mythencyclopedia.com/Go-Hi/Helen-of-Troy.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Helen-Greek-mythology

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Helen/helen.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/Zeus%27s_Lovers/Ganymede/ganymede.html

http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Ganymedes.html

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/g/ganymede.html

Check it out when you’re free!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): X is for Xenia

Day Twenty-Four 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. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “X” post talks xenia, or the etiquette of being a good host in Greek mythology.

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Look! Even the blond cherub at the bottom is offering food to the other dark-haired cherub. Teehee!

As I said, xenia is hospitality that extends specifically to strangers or foreigners.

Wikipedia describes xenia as being “the ancient Greek concept of hospitality, the generosity and courtesy shown to those who are far from home and/or associates of the person bestowing guest-friendship.” (source)

“Far from home” was also important to the ancient Greeks. “As seafaring peoples constantly engaged in trade among themselves and with outsiders, Greeks were inevitably in regular contact with strangers — and were themselves in situations where they were strangers.” (source) And you really probably don’t want to piss off strangers you’re trading with, especially if they cultivate something you want, maybe even need.

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It’s kind of like that story about the disguised (maybe not disguised) angels invited to rest their wings by Lot in Genesis 19. I do believe they were disguised because the whole idea is to always be polite to your guests. You never know who they might turn out to be…

Well, the ancient Greeks had this same fear. At least in theory they did, otherwise xenia wouldn’t be so important. So, basically, if you were a rude host, you might actually be rude to a disguised Apollo, or a masked Hermes, and that would NOT end up well for you.

This was also a theme, like xenia, in Greek mythology. And it was called theoxenia, or “theo” (god) + “xenia” (guest-friendship). Wikipedia describes it being when humans “demonstrate their virtue or piety by extending hospitality to a humble stranger (xenos), who turns out to be a disguised deity (theos) with the capacity to bestow rewards.”

And it also adds, that “[t]hese stories caution mortals that any guest should be treated as if potentially a disguised divinity and help establish the idea of xenia as a fundamental Greek custom.”

Life lesson, kids. Be nice to your gods – err, guests.

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And maybe the magical side of your family. Don’t want them hating you…

One source says that xenia “was more than merely a set of manners and social customs, but actually a religious ritual which placed demands both on hosts and guests.” That there was a process to do things, almost like a basic checklist to tick off once a visitor entered your home.

So offering a bath, a warm meal at the best seat of the table, and a warm bed was all very good, and very expected if you wanted to be consider a proper host in ancient Greece.

In turn, guests had their duty too. It wasn’t a one-sided guest-friendship: guests usually should have gifts with them. And, sometimes, they were given gifts too as they departed.

It’s really the same stuff that we expect from guests today. Family comes to visit, you play the role of courteous host…until they overstay their welcome. Well, it was the same then too. Guests in ancient Greece were expected to gather their affairs and never overstay their welcome, as long as they wanted to maintain a healthy guest-friendship.

So, what was the point of xenia besides the worry of trade deals?

It could have been used as a way of passport. At least to ensure safe entry into a country and be given a chance to explore. Or it’s possible that many inns weren’t available to travelers, or poorer travelers had to rely on the hospitality of citizens.

The Odyssey showed great examples of xenia in action.

As Odysseus traveled he met with foreigners on different islands, and some treated him awfully (i.e. Circe), and sometimes his men treated others awfully (i.e. Polyphemus and his sheep). And of course, since I brought up Polyphemus, we have the cyclops calling his father, Poseidon, to make Odysseus’s journey home a difficult one. And Poseidon doesn’t disappoint there.

Helen of Troy was abducted by Paris, and that’s a super no-no. A huge infringement on xenia. Heck, it started a war, that dragged in the gods as well!

And who was the protector – and possibly the most concerned with xenia?

Zeus, of course!

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He also went by the names Xenios, so there. Circles around.

Zeus was called the “protector of guests”. And he proved that in Bellerophon‘s tale. When the youthful hero is secretly slandered by the wife of his host, King Proteus. Proteus, believing his wife, wanted to kill Bellerophon but feared the wrath of Zeus (xenia at work!) and so he delivered Bellerophon with a false message to his father-in-law, King Iobates. But by the time Iobates opened and read the letter from his distraught son-in-law, Bellerophon had been “warmly received and settled in as Iobates’ house guest.” And so the same xenia stayed King Iobates’s hand.

Another tale with a bit of xenia running through it is that of Arcadian King Lycaon.

The twist is that Lycaon knew that his guest was Zeus (sometimes transformed into a pheasant). Lycaon wanted to “test” Zeus’s divinity (was he really as powerful and all-knowing/seeing as he was said to be?), and so he had his son, Nyctimus, served as the main dish. Zeus, realizing what was happening, grew angry.

Zeus put Nyctimus back together, giving the boy life again, and he cursed King Lycaon, transforming him into a wolf. Or, he sometimes just kills Lycaon.

Same went down with Tantalus – who wanted to steal immortality (i.e. ambrosia and nectar) for humans, and he ended up trying to sacrifice his son, Pelops, to the gods. Realizing what had happened, none ate except Demeter, who nibbled on the shoulder of Pelops before she clued in. (Supposedly she was still grieving for her Persephone’s abduction.)

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I guess he thought the Greek gods were stupid.

Tantalus was punished both in life (losing his membership to visit Mt. Olympus) and in death (being punished forever in the Underworld – in Tartarus, the wrong side of the Underworld).

MORAL: Dude, don’t be smart. Be nice. It’s probably going to save your life…and afterlife.

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Sources that helped me compose this post:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xenia_(Greek)

http://classroom.synonym.com/hospitality-ancient-greek-culture-23751.html

http://classicalwisdom.com/the-odyssey-be-our-guest-with-xenia/

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis+19&version=KJV

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Lycaon/lycaon.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Tantalus/tantalus.html

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): W is for Wine

Day Twenty-Three 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. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “W” post is about wine in Ancient Greece and its uses (or misuses) in Greek mythology. This all coming from a teetotaler (not that it should affect the post).

I took an Intro to Ancient Greece course in college and I vaguely remember discussing wine and its importance in the lives of ancient Greeks.

But wine was viewed both as a gift and as punishment by some philosophers.

A gift because it could ail illness (more like numb you to it) and it was attributed to the gods, so in a way it could open your mind up spiritually.

But it was seen as punishment because it could drive you loco – though I guess that depends more on what kind of drunkard you are? A happy one, or a seriously mopey one, or are you a danger to everyone because your anger is explosive when you’re out of it?

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Wine was definitely present at symposia where philosophers would gather and chat and drink. And, of course, in vino veritas. Nothing like a little alcohol to loosen that heavy tongue.

Archeological digs unearthing gold goblets used for wine suggest that wine was extremely important to the ancient civilizations in the Near East and the Mediterranean. (source)

Wine became a strong commercial product and was traded by the Greeks in those large amphorae, but it was also kept for religious services and enjoyed by the people. Heck, they had a god for wine (Dionysus)!

Now I also heard about diluting wine, and that wine drunk straight was often seen as barbaric. But doing some research (source), I now understand wine was used to purify water and the Greeks (and Romans, if you’re interested) “were putting wine into their water more than they were putting water into their wine. Back then, wine was seen as a way to purify and improve the taste of the (often stagnant) water source.” Very interesting.

Now some more interesting maybe-not-so-entirely-factual tidbits hurled your way…

Tidbits 1:

Ten Bowls of Wine – or a measurement of just how drunk you are, and what is the appropriate limit to cut yourself off before you toe over that line of good times and move into crazy land. Dionysus supposedly capped himself at 3 bowls of wine. Now how BIG are these bowls, I have no clue. But no more than three bowls.

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Listen up!

Bowl One was for Health, ” the 2nd to Love and pleasure, and the 3rd to Sleep. The 4th bowl, they say, belongs to Violence; the 5th to Uproar, the 6th to Drunken Revel, and the 7th to Black Eyes. The 8th, they proceed, belongs to the Police, the 9th to Biliousness, and the 10th to Madness and hurling the furniture.” (source)

Self-explanatory really. In Ancient Greece, keep within the 3rd bowl and you’ll avoid crazy town, straight ahead.

Tidbit 2:

Gods got drunk too!

None but the virginal goddess, Athena, Artemis, and Hestia could be affected by alcohol. This was the eternal gift of vowing to remain chaste. It’s a pretty super cool superpower if you ask me!

One tale I like is Hephaestus’s feud with Hera.

Supposedly Hephaestus, Mr. God of the smithy and volcanic fire, was born a cripple – and therefore an immediate embarrassment to his mom, Hera. Not sure why she should be shocked: he’s an incestual product. You’re lucky he doesn’t have more health problems.

Anyways, she decided to literally give him the boot from Mt. Olympus, shoving him off to fall for “nine days and nine nights” on the island of Lemnos where nymphs hurried to his aid, tending to his wounds. In other cases he fell into the ocean and was “raised by Thetis and Eurynome”.

In another variant it wasn’t Hera at all, but Zeus who angrily shoved his son off of Mt. Olympus.

But let’s go the Hera-kicked-him-out route; it makes this story so much funnier.

No matter his new living situation, Hephaestus learned his trade and he learned it well. He also plotted revenge. He constructed a golden throne for his dearest mother. When Hera got her gift, she didn’t think, “Gee, maybe I should seriously get this checked out. I mean the god who made it is pissed at me for humiliating him…”

Nope, she just sat down and BAM! She’s trapped in the magical throne, unable to stand again. None of the other gods could free her, so they went to beg Hephaestus to undo his charm. He told them to “beat it”.

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She deserves the chair! And it deserves her!

It sounds all so childish, and it gets worse.

With the other gods unable to get him to sway from his harsh punishment, Dionysus decided to intervene. He was not yet an Olympian god, and remember, Hera hated him for being Zeus’s son – another product of his many mortal and nymph lovers. So Dionysus brings his wine with him, loosens Hephaestus up and hauls him over his donkey.

Donkey and gods make their trip to Mt. Olympus where Hephaestus is offered a trade: he frees Hera and he gets Aphrodite as a trophy wife. And he’s like, “sure”. (Not that that marriage was on a healthy track at all.)

And Dionysus gets his prize too, Hestia’s seat at the Olympian table when she willingly steps down for him.

Related image

MORAL: Stick by your guns (or magical thrones) to stick it to them.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://classicalwisdom.com/the-importance-of-wine-in-ancient-greece/

http://www.winespectator.com/drvinny/show/id/5063

http://www.maicar.com/GML/Wine.html

http://etc.ancient.eu/interviews/drink-of-the-gods-wine-in-the-ancient-near-east-and-mediterranean/

http://www.pantheon.org/articles/h/hephaestus.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hephaestus/hephaestus.html

Check them out when you can!

#AtoZChallenge (2017): V is for Virgin Goddesses

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. 🙂

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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.)

Image result for shaking head gif

So let’s dive in.

Athena:

Image result for athena

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.

Image result for axing gif
Probably didn’t go down like this, but still funny to picture Zeus’s head being blown to bits.

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.

Image result for work it gif

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.

Artemis:

Image result for artemis

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.

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Soooooo, Zeus gave her a chastity belt with no lock.

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…

Image result for kagome bathing sit boy gif
Sit boy!

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.

Hestia:

Image result for hestia

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…

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RIP Alan Rickman.

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.

Image result for you crazy gif
I can see the logic, but I’m like “that’s SO craaaaaaaaazy”.

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.

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She was like the Cinderella who wanted to be Cinderella…

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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.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Athena-Greek-mythology

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Athena/athena.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Myths/Mortals/Erichthonius/erichthonius.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Artemis/artemis.html

http://www.shmoop.com/artemis-actaeon/

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/artemis/

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Orion-Greek-mythology

https://greekgodsandgoddesses.net/goddesses/hestia/

http://www.theoi.com/Ouranios/Hestia.html

http://www.greekmythology.com/Olympians/Hestia/hestia.html

https://www.paleothea.com/SortaSingles/Hestia.html

http://www.theoi.com/Georgikos/Priapos.html

Check them out when you have time!

 

#AtoZChallenge (2017): U is for Uranus and Urns

Day Twenty-One 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. 🙂

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As part of my Greek mythic figures, places, and things theme, my “U” post features Uranus, the father (or grandfather) of the Olympian gods, and because there isn’t much to say about the primeval guy, I also added urns (or Greek pottery) to this quick post.

First up, Uranus:

Image result for uranus god
Look at me, looking down my nose at you.

A primeval god, like Nyx, Erebus, and his “wife”, Gaia, Uranus doesn’t actually have a father or mother. He. Just. Is.

Uranus was the god of the sky, just as Gaia was goddess of Earth. In some variants, Gaia actually ‘produced’ Uranus (she’s his mama, y’all).

With Gaia, Uranus had quite a few children: the Titans (as we know, with Cronus being their leader later), the Cyclopes, and the Hecatonchires. The latter two were locked up in Tartarus, or “away inside the belly of Earth” (source).

Supposedly Gaia watched on as her first children, the Hecatonchires, and the Cyclopes were locked up by their cruel father for no misdeeds (other than being alive…and maybe being more powerful than daddy) and when she had her Titans, she persuaded them to rebel against the Sky itself.

I can’t find an explanation as to why Uranus hated his children so much. Maybe he liked sex, but he didn’t like the consequences of unprotected sex?

Cronus Takes A Stand:

So Cronus, either alone, or backed by most Titans except Oceanus, waited to descend upon Uranus when he came to visit Gaia for some fun times in the sack. Grabbing him unawares, the Titans held him back while Cronus, armed with an adamantine (or diamond) sickle from Gaia, castrated Uranus.

Cronus supposedly tossed the bloodied testicles over his shoulder into the sea where the blood drops formed three new species, the Erinyes (the Furies), the Meliads (ash-tree nymphs) and the Giants. The sea foam around the testicles then formed beautiful, divine Aphrodite.

Image result for aphrodite sea foam

Without his testicles, Uranus is supposedly unfit to battle.

Uranus disappears at this point from most Greek mythology, which suggests his tale was passed from a pre-Greek period. One source even theorizes that the sickle used by Cronus to “un-man” his father is of Asian origin (source) and this tale bears a resemblance to that of a Hittite myth. The Hittite Empire was an ancient Anatolian empire. Unfortunately, there’s a lot about the Hittites out there, and so little room in this post for them. But do research if you’re fascinated!

Now Uranus, or some random oracle, tell(s) Cronus that he, too, will grow to be a tyrant ousted by his son (or some foreign, new power). That’s why Cronus starts swallowing his and his sister-wife, Rhea’s children.

And that’s how Uranus’s power transferred to Cronus, which, now we know, is then forcefully inherited by Zeus, Uranus’s grandson and Gaia’s grandson AND great-grandson – remember, she very well probably is Uranus’s mother. Talk about convoluted family incestual couplings!

Image result for dizzy gif

MORAL: Avoid closer family ties than necessary. It could save yourself.

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Onto Greek pottery (which includes urns – that starts with a U!):

So the Greeks were all about the pottery. And why not, they were masters at creating some of the finest!

As “artists and scientists” (source), Greek potters had created many different kinds of pottery for specific purposes. The piece of pottery was tailored to its use, which was the fun part of my college intro to Greek history course (or what I remember of it anyways).

Painters and potters were usually separate people working as a team, no matter the surface of the pottery they were crafting and designing. So be it a plate or cup or a wine-storing amphorae, they made their professional relationship work to bring to life beautiful (and useful) pieces.

Image result for amphorae

So there were four types of Greek pottery, which makes it easier to classify considering there were a whole bunch of different styles of pottery out there.

The types are 1) the storage and transportation vessels, 2) mixing vessels, 3) jugs and cups, and 4) vases for oil (source). Typically #1 were larger, heavier pottery, like the amphorae you see above there. And the vases in category #4 were smaller, like an alabastron, which “were often carried by a string looped around the neck of the vessel.” (source)

Corinthian Alabastron Vase
Store your perfume in me!

As far as designs go, the pottery was used to tell stories. The same stories we’re told today – about Hercules’s Labors, and Dionysus’s tribunals to win his seat on Mt. Olympus, and so on. Stories that I’ve been sharing with you through this A-to-Z Challenge.

Now to the urns.

Cremation was common in ancient Greece. These funeral pots holding the ashes of loved ones were then buried, but the pottery remained beautiful.

The burial itself was three steps: first, the body was laid out, and then a funeral procession led the body to its final resting place, and then cremation.

During the laying out of the washed and cleaned body, people stopped by to mourn, much like a modern-day wake. This was followed by the funeral procession to the cemetery or final resting place. And finally when the deceased was cremated and buried, they were often buried with very little material treasures, even though the afterlife was very much a living concept in the minds of the, well, living.

And since we’re talking Grecian urns, one of my favorite poems is John Keats’ “Ode on a Grecian Urn”. As an artistic medium itself, it forever captures the immortality that the eponymous Grecian urn has captured in its body. The poem speaks of both the power and weakness of art in its scope to pierce our imaginations and shape our actions.

Now that I’m reading the poem again, it’s getting me all broody.

Ha. That’s my way of saying let’s cut this post off.

MORAL: Try to stay focused when writing a post. I got pretty flustered right now.

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Sources that helped me with this post:

http://www.greekmythology.com/Other_Gods/Uranus/uranus.html

http://www.theoi.com/Protogenos/Ouranos.html

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Uranus-mythology

http://www.maicar.com/GML/Castration.html

http://www.ancient.eu/Greek_Pottery/

http://www.ancient.eu/article/489/

http://greece.mrdonn.org/vases.html

http://www.metmuseum.org/toah/hd/dbag/hd_dbag.htm

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44477

Check them out whenever you’re free!