Friday, February 25, 2011

On Aegeus as Poseidon

Last week I mentioned that my mythology textbook posits Aegeus is himself an aspect/stand-in for Poseidon. On the one hand, this makes so much sense it's ridiculous that I didn't see it myself, but on the other hand, I have a hard time imagining an Olympian god spending years on earth in mortal guise to be king of a city which honors a different higher power. Unless of course the Aegeus-as-Poseidon aspect only reaches as far as the little jaunt Aegeus makes to the oracle, and his stop in Troezan to impregnate Aethra, which then becomes a little bit too convenient, and leaves more questions than answers.

Here's what the book has to say, verbatim (full citation at the end of the post):
"Aegeus, like Erechtheus, is another form of the god Poseidon. This is indicated by his connection with the Aegean Sea and by the tradition that Poseidon rather than Aegeus was Theseus' father." (p. 555)
which is followed by this endnote:
"And by his link with the cult of Apollo Delphinius, i.e., Apollo as a god of spring, when the sea becomes navigable and the dolphins appear as portents of good sailing weather." (p. 571)
Themis Aigeus Antikensammlung Berlin F2538 n2
Aegeus meeting with Themis
But let's not forget that Aegeus was taken in by Medea the, uhm, witch, who supposedly murdered her own children to take revenge on Jason. Poseidon seems much too wily to let himself get roped into that kind of drama-- and he's already married to Amphitrite. While his sea-goddess wife might turn a blind eye to his affairs, here and there, I have yet to meet an Olympian goddess with the character it would take to overlook her husband's disappearance for decades to live as a mortal and take mortal wives. And why would he want to? Boredom? If he was only there as Aegeus long enough to have his pleasure with Aethra, what happened to the real Aegeus, and why does he remember Theseus as his son, later? Add to that the fact that the gods have NEVER had trouble getting male children off anyone, and I have a hard time seeing Aegeus, with his struggle to get a male heir, as any kind of godly aspect.

However. It does neatly solve the paternity problem of Theseus, and to argue that Aegeus could NOT have been an aspect of Poseidon imposes human limitations on gods which, for all any of us know, are able to do much, much, more than the occasional shape-shift to seduce a woman. Poseidon in particular, as god of the seas and Earth-Shaker, comes off as pretty mighty when it comes to godly powers. So then, perhaps this is some small bit of Poseidon, exploring the world of man and mortality-- not unlike Jesus-- with the whole of Poseidon back home in his underwater palace.

Again though, why King of Athens, after Poseidon lost out on the patronage of that city to Athena? It seems to me more likely Poseidon would be interested in spiting them than blessing them with a great hero, after something like that. This is something we've seen over and over again. The entire Trojan War is based off of a grudge match between the goddesses who Paris did NOT choose looking to take revenge on the entire city of Troy for the insult. And the fall of Crete can also be attributed to Poseidon teaching Minos a hard lesson for breaking trust and not giving the beautiful gift of a bull back to the gods in sacrifice as he promised.

I suppose Poseidon might have simply possessed Aegeus for the duration of his conjugal visit with Aethra, but I've never heard of another god taking over the body of a man in spirit, when he wanted to get it on, and if he did so, how would that have any effect on Theseus' paternity?

I can definitely see the author's point, regarding Aegeus' associations and his general sea-like presence, but I'm just not sure it takes into account everything else that we know about Aegeus, his relationship to Athens, Poseidon, and the behaviors of the gods. It does not seem consistent with the rest of the myths I've read by any means-- though perhaps I'm just reading too much from an historical viewpoint, with the assumption that these people, in some manner, lived, or must follow some internal logic. After all, if it is all just a story told around the hearth-fire, then why does it have to be anything but what it is? But if myth comes from some kernel of truth, if myth is the cultural memory of gods that have been given up for dead, no less true than any other religious story which we take as history now (like the birth of Jesus as an historical figure), then I need some more convincing than an association with Apollo and his association with the sea.

Source Cited:
Morford, Mark P.O., and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology: Seventh Edition. New York: Oxford University Press, 2003.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More Music in Antiquity and Housekeeping!

For those of you who enjoyed Karen Slagle's guest post two fridays back, she's got a new post on music responding to one of the comments, over on her blog! With some more links to music on youtube!

For those of you who prefer listening to me rant about why everyone who is writing stuff with mythology needs to lay off of Hades, you can find that particular post on GeekaChicas. Don't worry, it is educational!

I'm going to start posting Wheels on the Bus and Affairs of the Gods in alternating weeks-- so this week you got Wheels on the Bus, and Friday will be whatever post with some kind of relation to Classical mythology. Next week you'll get a post on Norse Mythology on Tuesday, and an Affairs of the Gods on Friday.

I'm going to try to keep this Norse Tuesday, Classics Friday schedule going, because I like knowing what I'm doing, buuuuut once I start seriously writing New Book, things will probably shift a bit, since researching Classics stuff when I'm in the middle of the Norse Bronze Age is bound to leave me feeling a little bit scattered. SO. Enjoy it while it lasts! One of these days I might actually change to a Tuesday/Thursday schedule, but right now I'm too stubborn to be bothered!

Have a fabulous Wednesday, friends!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus part VI point V

(Part VI point 0, is as always over yonder at Ms. Hayson's awesome blog. When last we left our heroes, Thor had just promised he would do no harm to the zombies, to save Amalia and Mia a trip to jail for breaking the Zombie Treaty. Except, something ELSE has caught his eye in the mob of glittered and feathered undead!)

"Oh no," I said, my voice small. 
Thor charged. The static field collapsed and glitter rained down on my head, but I didn't care. It was all I could do to pull Mia out of the warpath. Lightning cracked so bright it seemed to split the sky in two, and thunder roared in echo to the god's battle cry.
The zombies fell like bowling pins, spinning off and scattering before him. They wove and slid, arms wheeling and bodies overbalancing into heaps. I blinked, not sure how they could be moving so strangely.
"What on earth?" I asked Mia.
"Oh," she said, her eyes wide and her face pale. "I heard rumors that Heelys wanted to contract zombies for endorsements and commercials. I guess they must have given them out today."
I flinched. There was no point in answering, and Thor was already swinging Mjolnir toward the one creature still standing upright. I caught a glimpse of a thick black mustache on the face of a snarling frost giant before it hit, and the giant went flying backwards into the stage. 
A mushroom cloud of feathers and glitter launched skyward, but the frost giant picked himself back up and came at the thunder god, aiming for his throat. He was... skating. With far more coordination than the zombies, though I was pretty sure the body mass of a frost giant was beyond the safe limit for the wheels on his Heelys. The sound of his body colliding with Thor's was louder than thunder. 
Thor took the fall, turning it into a roll which sent the giant into the air again, straight toward us.
"Oh no, oh no, oh no!" I leapt sideways, meaning to knock Mia out of the way, but she was already moving. I landed in the grass and stared as she skated back to me, helping me up, and we ran for cover. "What, did everyone get the Heelys memo but me?!"
The frost giant was up again, his face blue and white where Thor had struck the human disguise right off his body. To a casual observer, it would have just looked like mottled bruises, but I knew better. Lightning forked across the sky, and thunder shook the ground.
Mia grinned brilliantly. "Sorry! If I had known you were coming, I TOTES would have told you to wear a pair! They're so handy to have in zombie crowds--and of course, in case of godly throw-downs!"
"I'll be sure to pick some up at the mall while I'm there," I said. "But at this rate, I'm not sure we're going to make it today."
"Oh yea!" Mia clapped her hands, and her zombies fell in around us, somehow skating in formation. I NEVER would have pegged Tyler for a Heelys fan. "Friend-Zombies! We must get our friend Amalia to the other side of the quad! The bus will be here shortly!"
"But what about Thor?" I asked, running in the middle of their flying-V through the heart of the zombie panic. "I can't just leave him!"
A mass of Frost Giant soared through the air over our heads to land in a heap of rainbow feathers. It didn't so much as twitch, and I breathed a sigh of relief. Then a bolt of lightning struck the giant, and it melted into black ice and ash. Thunder gods are very, very good at winning brawls.
But there were a hundred zombies between us, a mob all skating and lurching around Thor, and when I tried to break from Mia's formation, Adam and Tyler caught me by the waist and pulled me back.
"You can't," Adam warned. "You'll be trampled!"
Sparks were flying, and I could see Thor trying to wade through the mass of undead, but there were so many, and he didn't dare harm them. Thunder gods might talk a good talk, but they always kept their word, and he'd made me a promise. His eyes blazed white and I could hear the thunder echoing his growl of frustration as the zombies broke against him like tidal waves, pulling him down.
"Thor!" I cried, losing sight of him in the crowd.
"Go!" He shouted, though I don't know how he heard me over the noise. "Get to the bus!" 
And then he was gone.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Affairs of the Gods: Poseidon and Aethra

This one is kind of tricky. Primary sources which state outright that Aethra and Poseidon had a bit of an affair are hard to come by, but Theseus is fairly well known as a son of Poseidon as well as Aegeus, so SOMEONE must have spread it around at some point. I expect the issue is that Theseus got pretty overlooked in later ages, in favor of Heracles, who became Hercules, so the stories didn't get preserved as effectively. Our biggest sources for Theseus (and as a result, also his mother, Aethra) are really Plutarch and Apollodorus, with a close second for Hyginus.

Piazza Navona 003
Poseidon/Neptune with a Pigeon Hat
Aethra was the daughter of Pittheus, who was the King of Troezan, and pretty well known as a wise and fair dude, which explains why Aegeus (King of Athens) would stop to chat with him on his way home, thereby being put to bed with Aethra which resulted in the dual-paternity Theseus when Poseidon also came calling that same night. (Though my textbook on mythology suggests that Aegeus himself simply WAS a form of the god Poseidon--I'm not sure how I feel about that kind of a statement.)

Plutarch being Plutarch of course discounts Theseus' immortal heritage, explaining it this way:
Aethra for some time concealed the true parentage of Theseus, and a report was given out by Pittheus that he was begotten by Neptune; for the Troezenians pay Neptune the highest veneration. He is their tutelar god; to him they offer all their first-fruits, and in his honour stamp their money with a trident. 
And as for Aethra's experience and Theseus's conception, he attributes it all to Aegeus:
Pittheus, therefore, taking advantage from the obscurity of the oracle, prevailed upon him [Aegeus], it is uncertain whether by persuasion or deceit, to lie with his daughter Aethra. 
The oracle in question is quoted by Plutarch as saying:

"Loose not the wine-skin foot, thou chief of men, 
Until to Athens thou art come again." 
Which seems to be most commonly interpreted as "don't get drunk until you get home" and if that's the case, Pittheus got Aegeus wasted, then put him to bed with Aethra on the sly. I can't imagine that if he was that drunk it would have been the most pleasant time ever for Aethra, in that case.

But Apollodorus pretty much ignores Aethra's, uh, time? with Aegeus altogether with just a line saying Theseus was born between them. So I turned to Hyginus' Fabulae which says:
Neptune and Aegeus, son of Pandion, one night in the shrine of Minerva both lay with Aethra, daughter of Pittheus. Neptune conceded the child to Aegeus. 
(Does it seem to anyone else that Athena gets a lot of people getting it on in her business?)

In any event, Aethra does not get the romanced version, with the love-shack beneath the shelter of a wave, nor is there any mention of her preferences in the myths. Her sole purpose is simply to mother Theseus and see that he is sent to Aegeus at the appropriate time. C'mon, Poseidon! You can do better than that! Where's the seduction?! Where's the disguising yourself as whoever Aethra might have been in love with to trick her into getting it on? Where's the CREATIVITY!

Poorly Done, Poseidon. 1 out of 5 stars for total LAMENESS of courtship.

So what do you think-- Does this qualify as an affair of the gods or not? Are you in the Plutarch rumor camp, or the Hyginus Aethra-had-a-busy-night party?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The Goats of Thor (An Expanded Repost)

Okay, so. Wheels on the Bus had to take a backseat this weekend (No one is sorrier than I am because I know how excited you will all be by the next episode which is vaguely plotted but not written yet), but it will return NEXT TUESDAY, same bat-time, same bat-place. Cross my heart! In the meantime, enjoy today's post: a topic resurrected from the archives while I recover from a grueling weekend. Because, apparently Tuesdays are for Norse-related fun.

Christmas throughout Christendom - Thor
Those shorts. Really?! oofda!
Today we're talking about Thor's magic goats!

Let's face it, a thunder god being pulled in a goat drawn chariot is a pretty ludicrous idea. It's laughable. There isn't anything godly or noble about it. I wanted Thor to be treated seriously, not comically, and how do you introduce magic goats in a serious manner? Believe me, it's not easy. Especially not when it made me giggle just to think about it.

But the more I wrote, and the more involved in Thor's character I got, the more I realized Thor needed to have his goats. It didn't matter how funny I thought it was, or how ridiculous it seemed, these goats are part of Thor's character. 

Tanngrisni and Tanngnost are Thor's companions, pulling his chariot, and perhaps even cooler, providing him with sustenance while he roadtrips. Tanngrisni and Tanngnost can be eaten, and as long as the bones are kept whole, they will respawn alive and well again the next day (with a little hammer waving) to continue the journey. 

The goats are one of the things that make Thor unique and understandable as a god. Thor associates, not with some more noble horse, fabulous cat, feral wolf, creepy raven, or golden boar, but with the same animals that the Vikings and Norsemen depended on for a living-- the regular livestock. The ignoble goat. The goats were one more part of what made Thor approachable, one more point to reinforce the fact that he was The Everyman's God. 

And why shouldn't Thor associate with the farmer's livestock, and the everyman, when the farmer is so dependent upon Thor, as a weather god, for rain in drought and sun in flood? Sure, Thor was big and tough in a fight, and lightning and thunder are pretty terrifying aspects, but the goats remind us that he is also something else. He is the friend who keeps the crops alive, as reliable as an animal that gave the vikings milk and cheese and meat. Of course, you don't necessarily want to make your goat mad at you, either...

If you're interested, there are quite a few animals mentioned in Norse mythology. Odin has Sleipnir the eight-legged horse (and child of Loki). Freyja has a boar named Hildisvíni, and her chariot is drawn by cats--which still strikes me as more frightening than goats. And Freyr rides another boar named Gullinbursti, with golden bristles, who is a product of dwarven craftsmanship. Oddly, Freyja's cats are not, to my knowledge, named, though most of the other companion/familiars/livestock of the gods tend to be. Odin's ravens are named, Huginn and Muninn, and even Freyja's necklace has a name.

And as for Thor and his goats-- I'll never try to keep them from him again.

Friday, February 11, 2011

Music of Antiquity

A very special guest, Ms. Karen Slagle (she holds a Masters of Music specializing in Education), the beta who caught the musical-inaccuracy in my manuscript (thankfully it was tiny and easily fixed) is here today to school us all on the music of the ancient world! Check out her website and give her a warm Good to Begin Well welcome! (Yeah, yeah, I know I complained about Italics just yesterday on Twitter, but that was in FICTION, not blogposts! SHHH. Also, for the record, the blog name of Frozen Socks was totally my idea.)

Pompeii - Musician with Harp and Cithara - MAN
fresco from Pompeii
While we have an overwhelming amount of leftover art, literature, history, government and even architecture from the Greek and Roman eras, ancient Greek music, by it’s very nature, has proved a difficult subject to seriously research and authentically reproduce.  While we have plenty of descriptions of music being played, extensive instruction as to how to play and compose it, and countless depictions of people playing the common instruments of the day, there are only about 40 surviving songs and fragments of songs that have been found amongst other Greek artifacts.  Despite this, because of writings by people like Pythagorus, Aristotle and Plato, we have a pretty good grasp of what it sounded like and how people thought about and practiced the art in their every day lives.
Music played an important if not crucial role in the ancient Greek life.  According to Plato's Republic, during a young boy’s education, the two most important subjects to be taught were music and gymnastics.  Boys learned music to discipline their minds and gymnastics to discipline their bodies.  However, the subjects had to be taught in exact equal amounts because too much music would cause effeminate behavior and too much gymnastics would cause aggression.  (This probably also explains Aristotle’s aversion, discussed in Politics, to the growing popularity of professional musicians and even some of the first documented virtuosos that arose during his lifetime.)

The type of music also contributed to a boy’s scholastic development because certain types of music would foster different characteristics.  For example, someone being trained to govern would be encouraged to listen to melodies in the Dorian or Phrygian mode because they encouraged a calm demeanor and temperance.  They would be discouraged from listening to anything in the Mixolydian mode, however, because it was considered sad and depressing.  (The modes are not something I am going to explain in this post, but STAY TUNED because I might satisfy your curiosity in a future entry, either here or on my own blog, Frozen Socks.  Suffice to say, the musical modes are something that were adopted by musicians in the early Christian church and survive in almost all Western Music still being composed to this day.)

But music’s influence was not limited to the education of ancient Greek children.  Music could cure the sick, purify the body, work miracles, control the relationships between people and even explain the movement of planets in space.  Even literature in ancient Greece was considered a form of music.  In fact, the ancient Greek language had no single word for a poem or prose that would be performed without a musical accompaniment.  Why is this?  How could something so nebulous, so fleeting have such an important and material influence on this society, particularly since they apparently did not bother to record it as they did their dramas and epic poetry?

That will have to wait for another day!  In the meantime, enjoy this chorus from Euripides’ Orestes that was found on a scrap of parchment dated from 408 B.C.E.

Tuesday, February 08, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus V point V

(Be sure to hit up Mia's blog for part V point 0 before reading this one! Haven't heard of it? Check out the Thor in Zombie Land page up top! When last we left our uh, heroes? Thor was just about to engage in a brawl with the entire Zombie Pageant Community in order to stop that godawful racket which is also known as Zombie Song. MUCH to Mia's dismay.)

He glared at Mia, Adam, and Tyler, a muscle along his jaw twitching with irritation. I would have laughed if I hadn't been so terrified, and I had to give Mia a lot of credit for putting herself between Thor and the zombies.
I tugged on Thor's elbow when I saw his knuckles go white around Mjolnir, and Mia much too well aligned with his trajectory. Thunder gods are not very good at stopping when the momentum builds toward a fight. Like the clouds above, Thor reached a carrying capacity for what he perceived as nonsense, and then unleashed his irritation in a torrent, whether the people around him liked it or not. He tore his gaze from Mia and the two zombies flanking her, and looked at me.
"You can't start throwing punches," I reminded him quietly. "You'll break the Zombie Treaty."
"Not if they start it," he said.
I glanced over at Mia, who was now waving hot dogs and throwing them through the static shield, which had lost some of its potency. Thor's anticipation for barreling into the mass of undead had turned it into a deflector of glitter, rather than an incinerator and the hot dogs kind of grilled going through it, rather than turning into dust. The zombies had lost some of their edge, a few even coming forward to collect a short-fallen hot dog. They were all still eyeing Thor, but with Mia and two of their own between us and them, they were beginning to forget why they'd been concerned by him.
"A bit late for that now, thank God." He raised an eyebrow. "Not you," I amended with a sigh. "The one who isn't always spoiling for a fight."
Thor snorted, his eyes flicking over the assembled as they sort of shambled back toward their pageantry. I hoped. His grip on Mjolnir slackened and I lowered his arm with a gentle pressure he didn't entirely notice, or at least he let me believe that he didn't. Either way, it was a relief. The last thing I needed was to be responsible for starting another zombie war. They'd have me tried for treason or something and throw me in jail and then I'd never make it to the mall! Of course, by this point I didn't even remember why I had been so intent on going in the first place. I should have known better than to try to travel anywhere with a thunder god. Better to have stayed snug in bed. 
"That Zombie Treaty should have never been struck," Thor grumbled. 
"Yes, well. It was. Zombies are protected under the law, and we're both just going to have to live with the glitter-fied results, all right? So if you could stop from starting any more fights today, I'd really appreciate it. We have things to do, remember?"
He smirked. "Do you?"
I pressed my lips together and glared at him. Thunder gods are also very good at calling your bluff. What with the mind reading. And if he hadn't been able to read my mind, he'd have seen the lie in my face anyway.
"Well whether we continue on to the mall or not, we need to at least find our way back home," I told him. "And that means crossing the quad to the other bus stop. And THAT means avoiding a brawl with a peaceful gathering of zombies, because if something happens to start one, it won't be you who ends up rotting in a cell somewhere, Mr. Diplomatic and Divine Immunity."
"I'd hardly let you rot," he murmured.
"So you say. But I don't have much faith in Aesir legal defense. Bragi may be able to tell stories but juries aren't going to be impressed with rhyming couplets."
"As if I would leave your defense to Bragi!" Thor stiffened, his eyes flashing. Thunder gods took any slights to their devotion very personally, and if he was busy thinking about how he'd break me out of jail, he at least wasn't considering how many zombies he could knock out with one swing of Mjolnir. "No less a personage than Baldur would defend you, and no man on earth can argue with his judgment. You'd be free again before nightfall."
"Free again, and facing a trip back home through Zombie Land," I argued. "With no miracles, major, minor or otherwise, we'd be right back where we started because you can't keep your hammer in your pants!"
He pinched the bridge of his nose, then sighed and dropped his hand back to his side. He stared over my head at the zombies for a moment. 
"All right," he finally agreed. "I shall strive to keep my hammer -- ah -- to home."
"Thank you," I said, and smiled triumphantly at Mia. When it came to thunder god wrangling, I had yet to meet my match.
But Mia's return smile faded almost as quickly as it had come when she looked at Thor and I turned to see his eyes burning blue white, his jaw set, and his whole body tensed for a fight. 
"Thor! You JUST promised!"
"That," he said through his teeth. "Is not a zombie."

Friday, February 04, 2011

Affairs of the Gods: Poseidon and Tyro

As Valerie pointed out in her fabulous guest post last week, Zeus wasn't the only god who got it on wherever and with whomever he wished. Poseidon had his fair share of indiscretions-- one of which included Tyro.

Poseidon enthroned De Ridder 418 CdM Paris
Poseidon and his Mighty Beard
Tyro was in love with a river god, maybe to the point of obsession. But Poseidon, not unlike Zeus, had no qualms about shape-shifting if it meant he got his way. So what did he do? According to Apollodorus (1.9.8):

Now Tyro, daughter of Salmoneus and Alcidice, was brought up by Cretheus, brother of Salmoneus, and conceived a passion for the river Enipeus, and often would she hie to its running waters and utter her plaint to them. But Poseidon in the likeness of Enipeus lay with her, and she secretly gave birth to twin sons, whom she exposed.
But Homer gave us a much kinder, even romantic, account of Poseidon's affair with Tyro in the Odyssey (Sometimes I'm almost persuaded that Poseidon wasn't half bad, as far as Greek gods go. uhm. kind of.):

She [Tyro] fell in love with the river Enipeus who is much the most beautiful river in the whole world. Once when she was taking a walk by his side as usual, Neptune, disguised as her lover, lay with her at the mouth of the river, and a huge blue wave arched itself like a mountain over them to hide both woman and god, whereon he loosed her virgin girdle and laid her in a deep slumber. When the god had accomplished the deed of love, he took her hand in his own and said, 'Tyro, rejoice in all good will; the embraces of the gods are not fruitless, and you will have fine twins about this time twelve months. Take great care of them. I am Neptune, so now go home, but hold your tongue and do not tell any one.'
The problem with all of this, of course, is that it's still incredibly deceitful. But I suppose if she thought she was making love with the River (or did he put her to sleep and then make love to her?) then at least she must have rejoiced in her unrequited love being fulfilled at last... Maybe.

I've got to admit that I do love the image of the giant blue wave arching itself over the two of them as a little love shack. And as seductions and rapes go, this one isn't SO terrible, aside from the usual deadbeat dad behavior after the fact, and the whole pretending to be someone else to get in her pant--er, skirt charade. And, wonder of wonders, aside from being knocked up, Tyro didn't get smote by any other gods or goddesses for the trouble Poseidon brought her! (In this instance, I think Tyro won the lottery--Poseidon's consort/wife Amphitrite did not seem NEARLY as interested in taking revenge on the women he seduced.)

Tyro went on to marry Cretheus and have other children, most notably Aeson who fathered Jason (we'll come back to this in a moment).

The twins she bore Poseidon were Pelias and Neleus, and as you might imagine, they survived their exposure to grow up and cause trouble in the usual heroic style. Learning their true heritage and killing some people while earning the enmity of the gods. Pelias in particular seemed to get on Hera's bad side, which as you might have gathered by now isn't typically the BEST idea.

According to Apollodorus, Neleus founded Pylos, and was the father of Nestor, a hero/wise-old-king from the Iliad. At the opposite end of Greece, Pelias wound up in Thessaly where he became King of Iolcus and eventually sent Jason (his half-brother's son--does that make him a half-nephew of Pelias?) on his famous quest for the Golden Fleece with the Argonauts.

Like I said. Trouble in the usual heroic style.

And just because I think it's interesting-- Aeson married the daughter of Autolycus (himself a son of Hermes, and known for his skills as a thief*), Polymede. And Autolycus's other daughter, Anticlea married Laertes, and fathered Odysseus, THEREBY making Jason and Odysseus first cousins.

Now you know!

*Yes. Yes, Autolycus, who was played by Bruce Campbell when KEVIN SORBO WAS Hercules.

Tuesday, February 01, 2011

The Wheels on the Bus IV

(As usual, special thanks to co-author Mia Hayson, without whom these fabulous scenarios would never have been imagined! Thor's adventures in Zombie Land continue! When we last left him, Thor had just found himself trapped on a ZOMBIE bus, and none too pleased. Luckily, Mia arrived with her glitterati to rescue our intrepid adventurers and direct them to the correct busline! But just when you thought things could only improve...)

We stepped off the bus into chaos.
Thor growled, and the sky turned green, then black, overhead. Thunder gods are very good at making the clouds glow in a full rainbow of colors. They're also very good at making rainbows, actually, but more often than not they seem very intent on choosing shades which remind a person of the contents in a sick baby's diaper. Needless to say, I was not impressed.
But I also wasn't impressed by the parade of zombies, throwing glitter and feathers and confetti everywhere. I hid my face against Thor's chest when what seemed like a full cloud of glitter blew toward us. He'd vaporized the last remnants of what had been dumped on him onboard the bus about the same time he began using lightning to shock the zombies that came too close.
"Keep your eyes shut," he told me.
I didn't argue. My hair began to rise from my head, floating up and sticking to my face as the air charged with static. The soft spit of water droplets turning to steam filled my ears, and I imagined the bits of glitter flaming into dust around us.
"Oh! Did I forget to mention?" Mia said. "Today is the Zombie Pageant!"
I groaned. "We'll never make it to through all this to the other bus stop!"
"Not without breaking a few heads, arms, and legs," Thor agreed. "Theirs, obviously," he added.
"Don't be silly," Mia said. "It's only a parade, and then a talent show and craft fair. Once they settle in and start making things, you'll have no trouble crossing the quad!"
"Is it safe for me to open my eyes yet?" I moaned.
"For the moment," Thor said.
I opened one eye, sneaking a peek at our surroundings, and was reassured by the shimmer in the air around us. A bubble of static-electricity repelled the worst of the glitz, but the feathers had begun sticking to it, and it wouldn't be long before everything outside our safe haven was obscured by rainbow-colored bits of fluff. Only Mia and her two best zombies were inside the bubble with us. Adam and Tyler both leaned carefully away from the field and they both were shooting Thor looks of thinly veiled irritation.
"Uhm," I said, not entirely sure I wanted to be trapped in a bubble with two clearly annoyed zombies, friends of Mia's or not. "Exactly when are they going to start the craft fair portion?"
Mia squinted through the feathers. "Before lunch, for sure. See? They're already setting up for the talent show. Oh! Microphones! I wonder if they'll sing?"
Since this question seemed to be directed at Adam, I didn't feel compelled to answer, instead glancing up at Thor. His expression was as dark as the sky overhead. He shook his head just slightly, his mouth pressed into a grim line and his eyes narrowed.
"Stop that," I hissed.
He glanced down at me, his expression clearing immediately and his eyes widening in innocence. "What?"
"You're planning who to take a hammer to first, and how many you can knock unconscious before they mob you. I KNOW that look, Thor."
He crossed his arms over his chest, his silence as good as an admission.
That was when the crooning began, like strangled seagulls screaming.
"Yes!" Mia said. "I knew they were going to sing! What a treat!"
Treat was not the word I would have used, nor from Thor's wince did I suspect he felt it adequate. I clapped my hands over my ears when more seagull screeching joined in, then the entire assembly of zombies were all moaning and shuffling and carrying on at the top of their lungs.
Lightning flashed overhead and the bubble of static flared blue-white, incinerating the feathers which clung to it. The crash of thunder drowned out the noise of the zombie song, and I sighed in relief as the crowd fell silent. Thunder gods are very good at turning storms into music, and compared to the god-awful noise previously assaulting my ears, the thunder rolled with the tones of tympanis in concert. My favorite lullaby.
Except that every undead creature in the place was staring at us. Needless to say, my relief at not being subjected to zombie-song was short-lived.
Mia sighed. "Well. That's too bad, really. Zombies almost never sing and I was hoping to record my observations for the end of term paper I need to write."
"Uhm," I said, as the mass of zombies began shambling in our direction. "You don't suppose they'll be scared off by a little bit of a jolt, do you?"
Thor grinned and stepped in front of me, Mjolnir already in his palm. "We can only pray."
I could only imagine which outcome he was praying for. No doubt it included a brawl.