Showing posts from April, 2013

Z is for Zeus

Last post of the A to Z challenge, so I'll make it a good one :)
Zeus (also known as Jupiter) was the god of the sky, and ruler of the Olympian gods. After overthrowing his father, Cronus, Zeus drew lots with his brothers Poseidon and Hades. Zeus won, becoming the ruler of the gods and the sky, while Poseidon became the god of the sea and Hades the god of the Underworld. His weapon is a lightning bolt, which he uses against people who displease him. He was married to Hera (Juno) but known for his many affairs.

Zeus was famous for overthrowing his father, Cronus, who had swallowed the rest of his children. He then went on to overthrow Titans,  and battled with the monster Typhoeus, eventually casting him down into the Underworld. When the Giants stormed Olympus, they were slain by Zeus and the other gods. When Prometheus gave the humans fire, Zeus became angry and created Pandora as a punishment, thus releasing the evils of mankind.

Y is for Youth

Yet again, this letter does not exist in the Greek alphabet, but I managed to find something (it's only cheating a little!)
Hebe was the goddess of Youth (hehe) in Greek Mythology, and the personification of youth and immortality. She was the cupbearer for the gods and goddesses of Mount Olympus, serving them nectar and ambrosia. She was the daugher of Xeus and Hera and was married to the hero Heracles when he arrived at the home of the gods.

X is for Xanthus

Xanthus was one of the two immortal horses gifted to Peleus by Poseidon as a wedding present. Later, Peleus gave these horses to his son, Achilles, to draw his chariot in the Trojan War.

When Patroclus, Achilles' comrade in arms, was killed in battle, Achilles blamed Xanthus in grief for not stopping the death. Hera granted Xanthus human speech and he said to Achilles that Patroclus had been killed by a god, and that a god would soon kill Achilles.

The Erinyes (the Furies) then struck the horse dumb.

Celebrate the Small Things

If you're looking for my A to Z 'W' post, you can find it here.

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.
I've had a really bad week, so I'm grateful to this blogfest, because it reminds me that there are always things to celebrate. I had to get my dog put down on Wednesday, so it's just an incredibly sad time for me at the minute. He really was like a member of the family. 
So, some things to celebrate!
- I finished both of my assignments, my pamphlet and my ghost story, and handed them in on Wednesday. I don't have any deadlines now until my dissertation deadline in September, so it's nice to be able to relax. 
- My pamphlet has been published online, so if anyone wants to take a look at it, you can find it here. It's a collection of poetry based on Greek myths, which is why I chose the theme for the A to Z challe…

W is for Wooden Horse

Another difficult letter, but I managed to find something :)
A Wooden Horse was the weapon used by the Greeks to win the Trojan War, started in part by Aphrodite (see my last post). When Paris of Troy abducted Helen (married to Menelaus, King of Sparta) he gathered an army to help him bring her back.

However, the city of Troy had huge walls which the Greeks couldn't penetrate. The battle went on for a long time, and the Greeks could do nothing to damage the city.

They created a huge, hollow wooden horse, pretending it was a peace token for the Trojans. The Trojans accepted this gift, and that night Greeks came out of the horse and opened the city gates, allowing the rest of the army into the city and destroy it.

V is for Venus

Cheating slightly with this one, since there's no letter V in the Greek alphabet. Venus is the Roman version of the goddess Aphrodite, so I'll be talking about her.
Aphrodite (or Venus) was the goddess of beauty, love, pleasure and procreation. It is said that Aphrodite was born when Cronus castrated his father and threw his genitals into the sea, and she was created from the sea-foam. She was married to the god Hephaestus, though she was often unfaithful to him.

It has been said that the Trojan War was at least partly Aphrodite's fault. At the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, only one goddess, Eris (Discord) was not invited. She went to the wedding anyway, and put an apple down on the banquet table. Inscribed on the apple was 'for the fairest.'

Athena, Aphrodite and Hera all believed the apple was meant for them, and Paris was brought to judge, since he was the most handsome mortal in the world. Each of the goddesses bribed him; Hera told him she would help him rule …

U is for Underworld

Governed by Hades, the Underworld is the kingdom of the dead. It is invisible to the living, and was considered as the dark counterpart to Mount Olympus, home of the gods.
There are five main rivers; the Styx (river of hatred), the Acheron (river of pain), the Lethe (river of oblivion), the Phlegethon (river of fire) and the Cocytus (river of wailing).

The Underworld is made up of several different places. The Fields of Punishment was for those who had committed crimes and created havoc in the world. Asphodel Meadows was for ordinary souls who didn't commit any crimes, but also didn't achieve greatness. Elysian Fields was a place for people who lived righteous and virtuous lives, and for people who were favoured by the gods. The Isles of the Blessed were islands in the realm of Elysium, and were only accessible to those who had been reincarnated and achieved Elysium three times.

Hades ruled over the Underworld with his wife Persephone. The Erinyes (the Furies) were welcome in …

T is for Tartarus

Tartarus is the lowest region of the world, and one of the first entities to exist in the universe (along with Chaos, Earth and Eros). It is dark and gloomy, a pit surrounded by a wall of bronze and a three-fold layer of night.

Hades is the main realm of the dead in Greek Mythology, but Tartarus is also used for the same purpose, usually a prison for gods. The Titans were condemned to Tartarus after they lost their battle with the Olympian gods, as was Typhus when Zeus overcame him.

In later myths, Tartarus is known as a place of punishment for sinners. It resembles Hell and is the opposite of Elysium (for the blessed). The punishment often fit the crime; for example, the story of Tantalus.
Tantalus was favoured by the gods, and one day he held a banquet for them. However, he didn't have anything that he considered fine enough to feed them, so he cut up his son and made a stew from him. Demeter ate part of it and immediately recognised what it was, telling all of the other gods. Z…

S is for Scylla (and Charybdis)

Scylla and Charybdis are two of my favourite mythical monsters. I hadn't heard of them since I heard the Trivium song 'Torn between Scylla and Charybdis). I actually named my car after Scylla :)
Scylla was originally a nymph, the daughter of Phorcys. The sea god Glaucus fell in love with her, but she fled from him onto land, where he could not follow. He was filled with despair and asked the sorceress Circe  for a love potion for Scylla. However, Circe fell in love with Glaucus, but he wasn't interested. Circe blamed Scylla for this, and so poured poison into the pool where she bathed, causing her to transform into a monster with twelve feet and six heads, each of which had three rows of teeth. Below her waist her body was made up of various monsters, including dogs which barked incessantly.

Charybdis was a sea nymph, daughter of Poseidon and Gaia. She flooded land to enlarge her father's underwater kingdom, until Zeus turned her into a whirlpool as punishment, which s…

R is for Rhea

Rhea was the daughter of Uranus and Gaia, and was known as the mother of gods. She was married to her brother, Cronus, who is famous for castrating his father, causing the creation of the Furies from his blood.

Cronus grew worried that his children would overthrow him, and so swallowed them whole to prevent it from happening. Rhea didn't want all this fate for all of her children, and so gave Cronus a rock wrapped in infant clothing instead of her son Zeus. He swallowed it whole, believing he was safe from all of his children, and Zeus was hidden away.

When Zeus had come of age, he came back and overpowered his father, forcing him to regurgitate his other siblings.

Celebrate the Small Things

If you're here from the A to Z challenge, you can find my 'Q' post here.

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.
This week I'm celebrating:
- I'm going to see my uni friends from my undergraduate course tomorrow - I haven't seen them for ages, so that should be a fun get-together!
- I'm off work until next Thursday, which gives me a chance to finish my assignments and catch up on some sleep!
- My pamphlet is almost done, I just have 3 more poems to edit today and then tomorrow I'm printing it off! My friend has done the cover for me, and it looks awesome! Part of the assignment is to publish it online, so I'll put a link up here when I've done that so anyone who is interested can take a look :)
- I wrote a novel for Camp Nano last August, and haven't even looked at it since. I got an amazing idea for it th…

Q is for Quests

Kind of cheating today, since the letter Q doesn't exist in the Greek alphabet! So, quests it is (it was a toss up between quests and queens) and I'm going with the quests of Theseus.
His first quest came when he turned sixteen. He had to lift a boulder in order to obtain the sandals and sword that his father, King Aegeus of Athens, had left for him beneath it. He lifted it easily and set off to Athens to meet him.

Along the way he came across many adversaries. He defeated all of them, and because of this he was treated as a hero when he finally reached Athens. Theseus was invited to a banquet with the King of Athens, who did not know it was his son. Medea, the Queen of Athens, knew that it was Theseus and thought he would be a threat to her son, the current heir of the throne, so she persuaded King Aegeus to serve his son poisoned wine. Aegeus, however, recognised the sword he had left for his son years ago, and knocked the cup from Theseus' hand.

Theseus' main quest …

P is for Pandora

Pandora was the first human woman, created by the god Hephaestus as punishment for the humans receiving fire from the titan Prometheus.
Her name means 'all gifted', because each of the gods gave her a gift when she was made. Aphrodite gave her beauty, grace and desire; Hermes gave her a cunning mind and crafty tongue; Athena gave her clothes and taught her to be deft with her hands; Poseidon gave her a pearl necklace which would prevent her from drowning; Apollo taught her to sing and play the lyre; Zeus gave her a foolish, mischievous nature and Hera gave her the gift of curiosity.

She was also given a jar by Zeus, and told not to open it. However, her curious nature got the better of her and she opened the jar, releasing all of the evils of humanity. The last thing that flew out of the jar was hope.

O is for Orpheus

Orpheus was one of the greatest musicians of his age, taught by the god Apollo. It is said that nobody could resist his music.
He fell in love with a nymph named Eurydice, and they were happy together and got married. One day she was pursued by a shepherd, Aristaeus, and in her haste to escape she stepped on a poisonous snake, was bitten and died.

Orpheus was devastated, and decided to travel to the Underworld to beg the gods to give his wife back. Apollo protected him as he found a cave which led to Hades, and followed Eurydice to the Underworld.
The King of the dead was swayed by Orpheus' beautiful music, and agreed to let him have his wife back - on one condition. Orpheus was not allowed to look at Eurydice until they had left the shadows of the Underworld.

On the journey through the Underworld, Orpheus could hear Eurydice's footsteps behind him and had to exercise extreme self control so that he didn't turn to look at her. As soon as he stepped into the light, he turne…

N is for Nicaea

Nicaea was a nymph and a follower of Artemis. She was loved by a shepherd named Hymnos, but his persistence distressed her so she shot him through the heart with an arrow. Eros (Cupid) was furious with her cruelty, and so inspired Dionysus to fall in love with her.
She resisted Dionysus for a while, but then he got her drunk and had his way with her, leaving her pregnant with her daughter, Telete. Nicaea then hung herself, and Dionysus named the town of Nicaea after her.

M is for Midas

Midas, the King of Pessinus, was granted a wish by Dionysus for bringing the Satyr Silenus back to him. Midas wished for everything he touched to be turned to gold. Dionysus warned him of the dangers of such a wish, but Midas didn't listen, distracted by his greed.
Midas was thrilled by his gift, and delighted in changing everything he could into gold. He ordered his servants to provide a feast to celebrate his new power. However, whenever he touched the food they brought, it turned to gold.
When his daughter was turned to gold at his touch, he realised his mistake and pleaded to Dionysus for help. The god told Midas to bathe in the Pactolus River, and as soon as he touched the water, his golden touch was washed away. The gold settled in the sands of the river and flowed downstream to Lydia, one of the richest kingdoms in the ancient world.

L is for Lamia

Lamia was the queen of Libya, and mistress of Zeus. Hera, Zeus' jealous wife, killed all of Lamia's children (except for Scylla, who was cursed already). She made it so that Lamia couldn't close her eyes, and so couldn't hide from the image of her murdered children. Zeus felt pity for her, and gave her the ability to remove her eyes.
Lamia went mad with grief, and took her revenge by devouring the children of others. Some versions of the tale suggest that Lamia was turned into a monster because of this, with a serpents tale below the waist.
Lamia eventually became the Lamiae, monsters similar to vampires; beautiful women who seduced men and then drank their blood.

Celebrate the Small Things

It's that time of week again! If you're looking for my A to Z post, go here.

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.

This week I'm celebrating:

- I've written enough poems to fill my pamphlet for an assignment due on the 24th. The minimum page number we need to have is 16 and my poems fill 28 pages, so I'm happy with that. Now I just need to edit them and my pamphlet will be ready to go. They're based on Greek myths, by the way :)

- I'm going to spend today tackling my ghost story, which is due on the 24th as well, and then the only assignment I'll have left will be my dissertation in September.

- I only have 3 more days at work then I have 10 days off. I got the time off mostly so I can use it to make sure my assignments are as good as they can be, but it will also be nice just to have a break from work.

K is for Keres

The Keres were the female spirits of violent or cruel death (Thanatos was the spirit of peaceful death).

They were agents of the Fates and the spirit of Doom. They are women dressed in bloody clothes, often with fangs and talons. They craved blood and feasted upon it after ripping souls from mortally wounded bodies, and sending them to Hades. Thousands of Keres haunted battlefields, and fought over the dying like vultures.

The Keres may have been released by Pandora when she opened her jar.

J is for Jason

Jason is a Greek hero known for leading the Argonauts on his quest for the golden fleece. In the spirit of short posts, this is a very condensed version of the story.
To claim his rightful throne, Jason had to go on a quest for the golden fleece. He took a group called the Argonauts with him, named after their ship, the Argo. Jason faced many challenges on his way to Colchis, and once he got there he was faced with three tasks to obtain the golden fleece. Hera persuaded Aphrodite to convince her son, Eros (Cupid) to make the King of Colchis' daughter, Medea, fall in love with Jason, and therefore help him with his tasks.
Once they'd completed these tasks, they went back and Jason became engaged to Creusa to strengthen his political ties. Medea took revenge on Jason by sending Creusa a cursed dress as a wedding gift, which stuck to her body and burned her to death as soon as she put it on. Her father, the King of Corinth, also burned to death trying to save her.
Medea then kill…

I is for Icarus

The story of Icarus is one of my favourite myths.
Daedalus and his son Icarus had been imprisoned in the Labyrinth (which Daedalus built himself) by King Minos of Crete, because Daedalus gave Ariadne the string which saved Theseus. Daedalus created a pair of wings each for himself and his son to enable their escape. The wings were made from wax and feathers, and Daedalus warned Icarus of the dangers of flying too close to the sun and the sea before they left.
Once Icarus began flying, however, he became so giddy with the feeling that he forgot his father’s warnings. He soared high into the sky, and the sun melted the wax holding the feathers in place. He plummeted to the sea and drowned. 
The area which he apparently fell in is called the Icarian Sea, near an island called Icaria.

H is for Heracles

Heracles, otherwise known as Hercules, was the strongest of all mortals and stronger than many gods. He is the most famous Greek hero. He was the last mortal son of Zeus, and the only man born from a mortal woman to be made a god after his death. Hera, Zeus' wife, was jealous of Heracles since he was born from an affair Zeus had, and so tried to kill him by putting two snakes in his bed. Heracles strangled them both.
Later on in his life, Hera drove him mad and caused him to kill all of his children. He had to perform 12 labours in punishment for this, including killing the Hydra and bringing the hellhound Cerberus from the Underworld.
He also performed many minor labours, and was one of the Argonauts.

G is for Gorgons

There are three Gorgons in Greek Mythology; Medusa, Sthenno and Euryale. They were described as winged women with broad heads, serpents for hair, large staring eyes, wide mouths, tusks, lolling tongues, flared nostrils and sometimes coarse beards.
Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon, and therefore it was her head that King Polydektes commanded Perseus to cut off. He managed to decapitate Medusa with some help from the gods, and from her neck sprang the winged horse Pegasus and the giant Khrysaor.
It is said that they were so ugly, any man who saw their faces was turned to stone.

There are a couple of myths explaining why Medusa was the only mortal Gorgon, my favourite suggesting that she used to be a beautiful maiden who lived in the north where there was no sun. She prayed to Athena, asking for permission to visit the south to see the sun. When Athena refused, Medusa got angry and said that Athena was jealous of her beauty, so Athena punished her by giving her snakes for hair and curs…

F is for the Fates and the Furies

I couldn't choose between the Fates and the Furies for this post, so I decided to write about both :)
The Fates (also known as Moirai) had the power of deciding each man's destiny. They chose whether he would be good or evil, and decided how long he would live. There are three Fates: Klotho, who spins the thread of life; Lakhesis, who measures the length of life; and Atropos, who cuts the thread of life.
The three Fates appeared as ugly old women, sometimes lame. Zeus, as the god of fate, was their leader, though the Fates are old and pre-date the gods, and it is speculated that they controlled the fate of the gods, as well as lower beings.

The Furies (also known as Erinyes) were three netherworld goddesses who avenged crimes against the natural order, particularly patricide and matricide. They emerged from drops of blood spilt when the Titan Cronus castrated his father Uranus.
The Furies were servants of Hades and Persephone in the Underworld, where they watched criminals bei…

Celebrate the Small Things

If you're looking for my 'E' post, click here.
Just a quick post this week, since we're in the middle of A to Z and I'm sure you're all busy :)

Celebrate the Small Things is a weekly bloghop hosted by Viklit over at Scribblings of an Aspiring Author. The idea is to post anything you want to celebrate from the last week.
This week I'm celebrating: - Some lovely comments on my A to Z posts - I'm glad you all like my theme! - I've written a couple more poems for my pamphlet assignment, and I only need a few more and I'll have enough to fill it. - The weather's been lovely here this week - looks like spring might finally be on its way!

E is for Enceladus

Enceladus was one of the Gigantes, the enormous children of Gaia (Earth).
During the battle between the Gigantes and the Olympian gods, Athena hit Enceladus with a spear and proceeded to crush him beneath the island of Sicily, so that he lay beneath Mount Etna. It is said that his breath feeds the fires of Mount Etna, and he causes volcanic tremors when he rolls his injured side beneath the volcano.
Other versions of the story say that Zeus killed Enceladus with a flash of lightning, and then buried him underneath the volcano.

D is for Dracaenae

Dracaena means 'she-dragon', and it is a creature with the upper body of a beautiful nymph and the lower body of a dragon, serpent or sea-monster. The most famous examples of Dracaena are Echidna and Ceto who, between them, spawned most of the monsters of Greek mythology.  Ceto was a marine goddess with the lower body of a sea dragon. She spawned Echidna and many other sea monsters, while Echidna went on to spawn many monsters including Cerberus (the three headed dog who guards the Underworld), Hydra (a nine headed water serpent) and Scylla (a sea monster with many heads, whom I have named my new car after!)

ISWG - Time Management

For today's A to Z post click here.
It's time for this month's ISWG, created by Alex J. Cavanaugh. 
My main insecurity today is similar to everyone else's - time management.

Although I scheduled all of my A to Z posts in advance, it's taking me a long time to read everyone else's posts and comment on people who visit my blog. This is making it difficult to find the time to work on my two assignments that are due on the 24th of April.

However, I realised the other day that I'm actually more ahead with these assignments than I thought I was. For my pamphlet, I have enough material to fill 13 pages out of the minimum 16 - I only need to write a couple more poems to fill the requirement. I have plenty more ideas for poems for my pamphlet (based on Greek mythology, like my A to Z posts) so it'll probably be closer to the maximum page limit of 30.

My other assignment is to write a ghost story that is 1500 words long, and then write a creative commentary of 10…

C is for Cupid and Psyche

Cupid (also known as Eros) was the son of Aphrodite (or Venus). He was the personification of love and desire, who threw arrows at people to make them fall in love.
There was a King who had three daughters, the youngest of which, named Psyche, was so beautiful that people would worship her. Aphrodite grew jealous, as people weren't worshipping her as much as they used to, so she made Cupid agree to make Psyche fall in love with a disgusting creature as punishment. However, when he laid eyes on her and saw her beauty he was unable to do it.
No man would marry Psyche, as they were all intimidated by her beauty, so her father went to ask Apollo for advice. Apollo said that they should take Psyche to the top of a mountain to wait for her monstrous husband to appear.
Once alone there, a wind carried her to a wondrous palace, where she was waited on by invisible servants and visited by her husband only at night. She knew he was not a monster, and was happy with him until her sisters, j…

B is for Bellerophontes

Bellerophontes was a great lover of adventure, and while searching for it he met Proteus, whom he believed to be a friend. Proteus was jealous of Bellerophontes, and sent him to his father-in-law, the King of Lycia, along with a sealed letter asking him to kill him.
The King decided to ask Bellerophontes to kill the Chimera, a monster with the head of a lion and the tail of a dragon, that was terrorising their village at night, knowing that he would not survive the task. Bellerophontes, eager for adventure, was excited at this, and went to a wise man for some advice. This man told him that he would need the help of the winged horse Pegasus, and told him to spend the night in the temple of the goddess Athena, offering gifts in exchange for her help.
Athena came to his dreams with a golden bridle, and showed Bellerophontes the location of the well that Pegasus drank from. When he awoke, the golden bridle was laid beside him.
Bellerophontes went to the well and captured Pegasus, and the…

A is for Arachne and Arlee!

Before I get to my Greek Mythology part of this post, at the request of Alex J. Cavanaugh (great idea by the way, Alex!), I'd first like to thank Arlee Bird for coming up with the challenge in the first place. If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't be taking part in this amazing experience every year. Thanks, Arlee!
This is one of my favourite tales from Greek mythology, so naturally I chose it for my first letter.

Arachne was the daughter of a shepherd, and was famous for the beautiful tapestries she weaved. Nymphs would travel from all over to see her work, and to watch her weave.
One day, a nymph asked her if her talent was a gift from the goddess Athena. Arachne protested, saying her skill was all her own, and that her weaving was better than Athena's. Athena heard of this, and challenged the girl to a weaving contest.
Both sat at their looms and began to weave, nymphs gathering round to watch. Athena weaved a tapestry based on the glories of the gods, showing them all …