Friday, August 10, 2012

The Odyssey: Part 3--The Lotus Eaters

Welcome to the third installment of Homer's The Odyssey (Severely Abridged and Paraphrased). When we last left our hero, he had washed up onto the beach of an inhabited island and was welcomed into the king's court as a guest, where he began to spin the strange-but-true story of his journey there.

All of the eyes in the hall were on Odysseus as he started his tale.
"Almost twenty years ago," he began, "a war started between the Greeks and the city of Troy. Back home in Ithaca, the army was drafting every able-bodied man to sail across the sea and invade Troy, and I knew it was only a matter of time before I was forced to join.

"Now, I felt this was a silly war--it had all started with a golden apple and the vanity of three bickering goddesses--and though Menelaus gave the excuse that he was rescuing his beautiful wife from the clutches of her abductor, I knew full well that Sparta had been looking for an excuse to invade and pillage Troy for years. The city had grown in wealth and power and influence, to the point that it incited the vicious jealousy of Greece. The 'face that launched a thousand ships' was really just the final straw to the king of Sparta.

"But I was not going to risk my life for such a cause--I had a beautiful wife, Penelope, and an infant son, Telemachus, to make me perfectly content where I was--and what's more, an oracle stopped me in the street and told me that, should I go to Troy, a very long voyage home awaited me.

"So I came up with a scheme to avoid being sent to war. I pretended to be insane. I hitched up an ox and a donkey to my plow--nonsensical, since the two creatures have very different strides and pull at different speeds--and started to sow my fields with salt. My neighbors believed my feigned lunacy, but Menelaus' brother Agamemnon was not convinced. He ordered that, in order to prove that I was completely out of my mind, my infant child should be placed in front of the plow.

"Of course, nothing was worth killing my son. I veered around him and revealed my sanity. I grudgingly went to war."

Odysseus paused, looking around at his captive audience. "You all know what happened after that. The Trojan War lasted ten years of carnage. As the Greeks started to commit acts of sacrilege--desecrating altars and pillaging temples--the gods began to turn their backs on us. We were losing to the Trojans, badly. But my scheme with the wooden horse turned the tables and gave us the victory."

"We know all this," the king interrupted eagerly. "But why haven't you made it back to Ithaca in all this time? It's been ten years since the fall of Troy! Everyone began to assume you were dead."

Odysseus took a deep breath. "Well, it all started when my ship was blown off-course by a strange wind. We landed on an island inhabited by very friendly, hospitable people...perhaps a little too hospitable. They ate a very peculiar fruit called a Lotus, which was sweet and invitingly fragrant, but made one sleepy, content, apathetic, and forgetful. I warned my men not to touch them, but a few members of my crew ate the Lotus. They didn't want to leave. They didn't remember their families and homes to which they must return. It was as though they were under a spell.

"I had to forcibly drag them off the island and back to the ship, and they wept for days. We quickly set sail again--but now we were so off-course that we had passed the realm of our knowledge. We did not know of the strange and mysterious isles that awaited us, far more deadly than the one we were leaving.

"We cheered when we came into view of a small chain of islands. We headed for the nearest one, which appeared lush with vegetation. If only we had known the danger and misery that awaited us there..."

What happened to Odysseus and his crew on this mysterious island? Tune in next time for Part 4 of Homer's The Odyssey to find out!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Like the myth of Hades and Persephone? I'm working on a novelization of it. If you're interested in reading my version, you can read it at:

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Musings on Muses

Hey guys, RJ here. Decided to write a post myself, seeing as Megan's been doing all the talking around here. While Meg has been telling stories about heroes and gods, I'm probably going to be sticking to monsters and deities. Is that a little more difficult? Yes. Is it still going to be fun? Yes. So here it is: An Intro to the Muses.

The Muses were nine women who were said to literally be inspiration. Not the goddesses of inspiration, but inspiration itself. The Muses were not only the source of human knowledge, but the lifeblood of art. Each Muse had a specific art form attributed to them. For example, Polyhymnia was the inspiration for choral songs (the word hymn derives from her name), Thalia the Muse of comedy (I find it ironic that Rick Riordan named a punk, cold daughter of Zeus after the goddess of comedy), and Terpsichore (love that name) had domain over dance.

The word 'muse' in the English language means to meditate upon or to think about reflectively. Alternately, it can be to comment on something thoughtfully, something you see a lot on blog descriptions (musings on [topic] like ours). The most obvious example of the Muses' influence on our lingo is in 'music' one of the Greeks' favorite art forms. In fact, it's fitting that my all-time favorite band is the English
alternative rock band Muse.

The Muses are that little idea that you get while brainstorming, the spark of inspiration that could lead to anything from a novel to a scientific discovery. This itself says a lot about Greek culture. As Meg so eloquently put it, it shows the Greeks considered art so special and incredible that it could only be divinely inspired. The thing that really sets the Greeks apart from the Romans is the fact that they looked at culture in a much richer fashion, as a meeting ground between humanity and divinity. The Romans simply liked power, which I can respect, but what the Greeks valued is what makes me like them so much.

The Muses' power was not limited to the fine arts. Clio was the goddess of history, inspiring the great myth writers and historians to record events in the past and present. Urania was the goddess of astronomy. A little specific? Yes. But with her symbols a globe and compass, I'm going to hazard a guess that she had a hand in cartography, the art of making maps. She is always depicted looking toward the heavens, her name literally meaning 'heavens' and she can predict the future by the alignment of the stars. Yes, even horoscope writers have a Muse.

The Muses also represent human knowledge. In a way they are one of the most prominent bridges between the gods and the Earth, aside from demigods. They leak knowledge from the divine to the human, and kindle in them a passion to share it with the world. They are a bit like Prometheus bringing fire to the human race, but a little more... legal. Being divine themselves, they understand how much the human race can and can't handle.

For reference, here are short summaries of each of the nine Muses' functions and symbols.

Occupation: Muse of epic poetry
Emblem: Writing tablet
Bio: Calliope, meaning "beautiful voice," was the daughter of Zeus and Mnemosyne. Being the Muse of epic poetry, and was said to be Homer's Muse, inspiring the Iliad and the Odyssey. Her sons were Linus, the inventor of melody and rythmn, and Orpheus, the great musician, and one of the few heroes ever to escape the Underworld. Calliope is considered to be the wisest of the Muses.

Occupation: Muse of history
Emblem: Scrolls
Bio: Clio, meaning "recount" or "make famous," is the inspiration of historians. Like historians, Clio was not famous herself, but was rather the one making others famous.

Occupation: Muse of love poetry
Emblem: Cithara (similar to a lyre)
Bio: Erato, meaning "desired" or "lovely," was the muse of love poetry and, as the name suggests, erotic poetry. According to one legend, her supposed tomb on the island of Samos was a pilgrimage site for star-crossed lovers.

Occupation: Muse of song
Emblem: Aulos (similar to a flute)
Bio: Euterpe, meaning "rejoicing" or "bringer of delight," was given the role of the Muse of Music. She was also accredited to lyric poetry in Classical times, making her one of the biggest outlets of creative energy today.

Occupation: Muse of tragedy
Emblem: Tragic mask (the frowny one in the theatre symbol)
Bio: Melpomene, meaning "melodious," is known best to be the Muse of tragic theatre, though was originally the Muse of singing, hence the name. Her realm is the inspiration on the dark half of theatre, her counterpart being Thalia, Muse of comic theatre. It was customary to invoke her favor at the beginning of a tragic play.

Occupation: Muse of hymns
Emblem: Veil
Bio: Polyhymnia, meaning "many hymns," was is a pensive Muse whose mysterious power was of sacred literature and hymn. Polyhymnia is a character sometimes used in popular culture. A fun fact is that Madeline L'Engle named her fictional character Polly O'Keefe loosely after the Muse Polyhymnia.

Occupation: Muse of Dance
Emblem: Lyre
Bio: Terpsichore, meaning "delight in dancing," is the Muse of dance and dramatic chorus. She is depicted playing background music with a lyre for a chorus, and is the mother of the Sirens in some myths.

Occupation: Muse of comic theatre
Emblem: Comic mask (the smiley one)
Bio: Thalia, meaning "to flourish," is the Muse of comedy. A common Muse nowadays, Thalia is portrayed wearing a crown of ivy and holding an actor's trumpet, which was used to amplify actors' voices.

Occupation: Muse of Astronomy
Emblem: Globe and Compass
Bio: (see above section on Urania)

As you can see, the Greeks emphasized art in the fullest, with many songs and poems asking for the help of the Muses in their lyrics or their verse. If the gods really have moved with the West, nowadays' Muses are in movies, art, architecture, and music (though I don't think Justin Beiber got the proper intercession. Poor guy.)

See ya guys later, hope you liked my first attempt at describing myths to you. Have good summers,

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Odyssey: Part 2--Poseidon's Wrath

Previously on The Odyssey: Odysseus, finally freed from the bondage of his temptation, leaves the sea-nymph Calypso on a raft she gave him, not knowing where it will take him.

All Odysseus could see for miles was an empty stretch of blue. Calypso had given him food and water for the journey--as well as the assurance that the magic raft would take him to the nearest dry land--but days had gone by without a glimpse of life. Still, he had endured much worse than this, and despite his doubts betrayed not a hint of fear.

Odysseus was a handsome middle-aged man, remarkably clever and resourceful, with a shrewd face and powerfully built. His survival he attributed mainly to his cunning and craft, which had gotten him out of countless hopeless situations--a trait that had caught the attention of the goddess of wisdom, Athena. He had been trapped for seven years on Ogygia--could perhaps his current freedom be Athena's doing?

Just then, Odysseus glimpsed something on the horizon. A blurry, faraway patch of green: land!

As he approached it, Odysseus could see that it was an island--he could even make out some man-made stone structures. Thank the gods, civilization at last! And yet... He had learned not to trust seemingly simple situations. There was no way that he could just land his raft without the slightest difficulty--surely, some sort of complication would arise.

A rumbling sound behind him confirmed his pessimistic prediction. Turning around, he saw a figure rising from the sea--a terrible bearded man the size of the Colossus, his face fierce and vengeful, carrying a three-pronged spear in one hand.

Oh, gods--Poseidon's caught up with me! Odysseus thought, paddling the raft furiously, trying to think fast.

The god of the sea slapped the water with the Trident and created a massive tidal wave--headed straight for Odysseus. There was nothing he could do--his raft was crushed like a twig and he himself was swept away by the tempest. His last thought before the wall of water crashed over him was a desperate plea to Athena and Zeus--they had protected him this far, hadn't they?

The next thing Odysseus knew, he was waking up on a beach, calmer waves lapping over him. Every inch of him was sore, but he was still alive. At first, he was sure his journey had all been a dream, and that he was waking up back on Ogygia, because a pretty young woman was standing over him, trying to rouse him.

But his eyes focused, and he saw that it was a completely different girl.
"My name is Nausicaa," she said. "The goddess Athena told me in a dream that I should come to the shore today--and I found you here. Are you alright, sir? Can you hear me?"

Relieved, he assured her that, though he was a bit worse for wear, he was alright.

"Where did you come from? There is no ship in sight."
"I had a ship...a long time ago...the whole crew is lost but me. I took a raft here."
"You poor man," the girl said kindly. "Let me take you home with me. My mother and father will show you hospitality, I am sure."

And so Nausicaa brought Odysseus to her father's house, gave him fresh clothes and a place to rest, and invited him to the banquet that night. Her parents received him graciously, without once asking for his name. It was a relief to Odysseus to forget about his troubles and his past for a time.

At dinner, however, a minstrel began to perform some narratives about the Trojan War, and all of painful memories began to resurface. He tried to listen indifferently, but it was difficult. Demodocus, the blind singer, told a tale of a brave hero from Greece, the brilliant man who had come up with the Trojan Horse. The Trojans had been winning the war, and the Greeks had needed something to tip the balance in their favor, so this clever hero had decided to use the Trojans' arrogance against them.

They would construct an enormous wooden horse and wheel it to the gates of the city. The Trojans would think it was a gift from the gods to show their favoritism, or else a peace offering from the terrified Greeks. They would bring it inside the city gates, and throw a lavish party in celebration. When everyone slept soundly after their drunken carousing, the horse--which was, in fact, hollow and filled with Greek soldiers--would open, and the Greeks would take the city of Troy. The plan worked, and Troy fell.

That hero's name was Odysseus.

Eventually, Odysseus could bear it no longer. He could not listen to the story while pretending to be unaffected by it. He admitted to his company that he was, in fact, Odysseus himself. The party was astonished--for most had presumed him dead after all these years missing in action--and asked him how in Hades he could have found himself all the way here on the isle of Scherie.

"My raft was wrecked by Poseidon," Odysseus explained. "He has a bit of a grudge against me, you see."

This, of course, only piqued their interest further. What could a mortal man have done to earn the ire of Poseidon? And why hadn't he made it home, nearly ten years after the Trojan War had ended?

"Well...that's a bit of a long story."

How DID Odysseus come to be so far away from home and in such a mess, anyway? Tune in next time for the third installment of The Odyssey (Abridged and Severely Paraphrased) to hear Odysseus tell his tale of adventure and woe from the very beginning.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Pts. 11, 12, 13, and 14 of PJO: The Lightning Thief

We had almost forgotten that this blog was about audiobooks! We were just having a little too much fun with the Greek myths to remember to post parts up here. Due to laziness, we decided to post 4 in one entry, seeing as our channel is already on Part 19. Also, remember to take a look-see at it for a Red Pyramid audiobook (link in the description).

Pt. 11: So here we bring you Part 11 of Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief. In this chapter (8), Percy finds out who he really is.

We have a link to download this audio recording for your enjoyment on your own time, unhindered by the unweildiness of a laptop or personal desktop computer. Follow the link:

If you aren't in a hurry, watch our video here:

Pt. 12

Pt. 13

Pt. 14

Taking a quick look-see at our channel would give us great joy:

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

The Odyssey: Part 1--Calypso's Island

Greetings, fellow mythology lovers! We are about to embark on an epic quest--a journey through the story of Odysseus, a mortal beloved by Athena, and his long travel home from Troy. We will encounter vicious monsters, magic spells, the wrath of gods, and the temptation of beautiful women. Will Odysseus ever make it home to his dear Penelope in one piece? There's only one way to find out: let's dive into Homer's The Odyssey!

Because this is such a long and convoluted story, I'm going to tell it in parts--and the tale itself is structured kind of episodically anyway--and it'll be more of an abridged version. The epic poem is attributed to a blind wandering poet named Homer (all Greek myths began as oral traditions, which is why there are varying accounts of them), who also wrote The Iliad--The Odyssey is, in fact, the sequel to The Iliad, which recounts the tale of the Trojan War.

I hope you enjoy our retelling of this tale--peppered with romance, adventure, and daring heroism--though of course, I am no Homer, and I do recommend reading at least parts of the real Odyssey yourself (most translations are easier to read than Shakespeare or Beowulf, while still preserving some pretty poetic language).

Our story begins on a peaceful island in the Mediterranean called Ogygia (oh-JEE-jee-uh). The pristine beach was of white sand; the sparkling sea was empty as far as the eye could see. A beautiful Nereid named Calypso, who had soft eyes and a kind face, was singing softly and tending to her garden beside the cave she lived in. Suddenly, looking up, she saw something flying across the horizon, skimming the clear water, towards her little island. Was it a bird? No. Shading her eyes, she realized it was the god Hermes, come to visit her.

She smiled and welcomed him to her home, offering him ambrosia and nectar after his long journey from Olympus, happy to see a friendly face. Calypso, being a Titan's daughter, was banished to this island, and--idyllic and peaceful as it was--she was lonely.

Hermes, however, was not there for a social call, but had a message for her from Zeus.

"Zeus knows that you keep Odysseus here, Calypso, and he sent me to tell you that you must let him go."

Calypso, flushing, insisted that she had never prevented Odysseus from leaving if he wanted to, that he was not a prisoner. Hermes sympathized with her loneliness--Calypso had such a softness to her that it was difficult not to feel sorry for her--but reiterated that Odysseus had a journey to complete, and a family to return to, a family that believed him to be dead.

Calypso thought back to the day that a handsome but battered-looking man had washed up on the shore of her island. His ship was destroyed, and his crew lost at sea, and she had nursed him back to health. He was remarkably clever, and a fearless soldier who had clearly endured many trials--things he did not speak of, and she dared not ask him about. She had not expected, however, to fall in love with him. Though it was true that she had never forced Odysseus to stay with her, she feared the day that he would gather enough resolve to leave her. Every night, he would succumb to her charms and lie with her--and every morning, weep with remorse and regret. This had gone on for seven years.

She knew, however, that no matter how attracted to her Odysseus might be, he pined for his home and his family more. Every so often, he would seem to look right past her and see her instead: Penelope, his wife. Calpyso sighed. She knew it was Penelope that Odysseus truly loved and belonged to.

Hermes seemed to understand the conclusion she had come to. "If you truly love him, Calypso," he said, "you will let him go. It is not his destiny to be with you forever."

Reluctantly, with tears in her eyes, she agreed. With her magic, she created a raft that would see Odysseus safely to dry land. She knew that once he left this island, he could never find it again--but that was as it should be. Assured that Calpyso was resolved on following Zeus's command, Hermes left.

Odysseus left Ogygia with a conflicted heart, sailing towards the vast horizon not knowing when or where he might alight. But, though Calpyso watched him go from the shore, he did not look back.

Where will Odysseus land? How did he come to be so far from home, with no ship or crew? Tune in next time for the second installment of...THE ODYSSEY.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

My Big Fat Greek Dictionary

In the romantic comedy My Big Fat Greek Wedding, much of the humor is derived from the father of the bride, whose pride in his Greek heritage is borderline fanatical. I don't know how accurate or inaccurate the film's portrayal of modern Greek culture is, but I do know that when the father insists that he can take any word and prove that its root is Greek, he's got a point.

English a curious language in that it's not really a language of one people so much as a composite of hundreds of other languages. Much of it is derived from Latin, but I'd say we owe at least a third of our words to Greece--sometimes specifically Greek mythology.

For instance, I already talked about the Narcissus and Echo myth, which gave us two common English words. Atlas, a word we use to refer to a large map, was the name of a Titan who was condemned to hold the entire world on his shoulders (hence the connection to geography). As my dear brother already mentioned, the nine Muses gave us the verb "muse" and of course the noun "music." The more common spelling of Kronos is "Cronus," from which we derive the words "chronology" and "chronological," which refer to the order of events, since Cronus had powers over time. From the love-god Eros, we get the word "erotic." Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, became the word for the colored part of the eye.

Here's a weird one: our English word "hermaphrodite" comes from the myth of Hermaphroditus, a son of Hermes. A young woman fell desperately in love with him, but he was pretty lukewarm towards her, so she clung to him and begged Aphrodite that she would never be seperated from him. Unfortunately, the gods granted her wish a little too literally, and they became one entity.

Nemesis was the goddess of retribution--sometimes interpreted as a goddess of revenge, and other times of justice, depending on your opinion--but now the word has come to mean a person that one regards as a rival or enemy.

Our words "panic" and "pandemonium" are references to the god of the wild, Pan, who had the power to create chaos with his call.

Stoicism was a Greek philosophy, a school of thought, but now it's mostly come to mean remaining fairly emotionless or showing little emotion. Hedonism was a philosophy that promoted the pursuit of pleasure, so when people say "hedonistic" now, they mean superficial and pleasure-seeking.

Ironically, the word "dyslexia" is also Greek, so Percy Jackson really does have Ancient Greece to blame for his learning disorders, haha.

Another weird one--"automaton" was the name of the mechanical giants that Hephaestus the blacksmith made, so the Ancient Greeks predicted robots.

A lot of prefixes and suffixes that we add to words are Greek, too--like "-opolis" means city (such as the word "metropolis"), and "-ocracy" or "-archy" means the word refers to a form of government or society ("aristocracy," "democracy," "oligarchy," "anarchy").

Some other words we owe to the Greeks: apostrophe, apathy, lethargy, academy, tragic, epiphany, orthodox, mathematics, agnostic, hygiene, myriad, dogma, diagnosis, semantics, character, didactic, irony, metaphor, cynical, protagonist, and angel.

Whew. And that's hardly a comprehensive list, it's just a basic overview of some common ones. If you want to spot any more words with Greek origins, anything with a "ph" instead of an "f" is probably Greek, and anything with the suffix "'-ology" is Greek for "study of..." The prefixes "mono-" ("one"), "a-" ("none") and "poly-" ("many") are also Greek: monotheist, polytheist, atheist, amoral, asexual, asymmetical, polygon, polygamy, and monogamy, just to name a few.

 Interestingly, one can notice that the kinds of words we adopted from them tend to be things we associate with Ancient Greece--learning, science, literature, theater, politics, and religion. Chances are, half the words you'll use in literature class will be Greek--synonym, antonym, homonym, syntax, diction, etc.

So, are there any other words or phrases with their origins in Greek mythology or language that I am forgetting? If you have anything else to add, I'd love to hear them.

One final thought for the day--I'd like to close with another My Big Fat Greek Wedding quote: "There are only two kinds of people in the world--those who are Greek, and everybody else who wishes they were Greek."

Hope everyone's having a lovely July, and to all my American readers, I hope you had a lovely Independence Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Under the Sea...

Whew, it's been a long time! Sorry, guys, I did not mean to neglect the mythological world for so long, but work has been crazy.

But it's finally truly summer, and last weekend the family went to the beach for the first time of the season. (Blessed as we are to live in West Michigan, where the summers are hot and humid, and a myriad of lovely beaches are just an hour away, our family has always been part fish.) The night before that, Finding Nemo was on TV, and the song "Beyond the Sea" came on my Frank Sinatra Pandora channel. (Love that song. So classy.) At last, I had to conclude: Poseidon is stalking me.

Actually, I'm surprised (and fortunate) that a rip tide did not swallow me in Lake Michigan for practically skipping over this very-important Olympian--I mean, I gabbed on and on about Zeus and Hades, but Poseidon scarcely got a word in edgewise there. Granted, Lake Michigan is fresh water, so maybe it was outside the sea-god's jurisdiction, but...

Allow me to rectify this.

Poseidon is the middle child of Kronos and Rhea, brother of Zeus and Hades. The three of them being the most powerful of the gods, they are generally referred to as a trio since their powers represent the three aspects of the world besides the terrestrial earth itself (air, sea, and underground). When the three were divvying up the world after the Titan War, Poseidon was fairly satisfied with his lot, because he feels perfectly at home in the sea and gets a certain degree of autonomy from Zeus. The sea was very important to the Greeks, given that the country is composed mainly of coast and hundreds of tiny islands, so Poseidon was widely revered, and there are many statues and temples dedicated to him. (The Romans, on the other hand, were afraid of the sea and had a comparatively pitiful navy, so Neptune was generally avoided rather than invoked.)

The God of the Sea--sometimes called "Earthshaker" and "Stormbringer" because he is responsible for earthquakes and hurricanes--lives in a spectacular underwater palace decorated with shells, sunken treasure, and countless pearls. He usually appears as a bearded man holding a Trident, his three-pronged spear and symbol of power.
He is married to a mermaid named Amphitrite, but much like his younger brother he is not what you'd call husband of the year. Some famous heroes, such as Theseus (slayer of the Minotaur), Orion (the hunter), and more recently the plucky young Percy Jackson, are his children. Strangely enough, the Cyclopes, the one-eyed giants who work in Poseidon's underwater forges, are his children too--sometimes children of gods and nature spirits turn out a little...messed up.

This explains Poseidon's less-than-favorable involvement in The Odyssey. He is famous for his attempts to thwart the hero Odysseus in his journey through the Mediterranean, enraged that the mortal blinded his son, the Cyclops Polyphemus. Zeus, however, approved of Odysseus' action and protected him, because Polyphemus had broken the strict code of hospitality by betraying his own guest. This only added to the friction between Zeus and Poseidon.

Poseidon and Zeus, like many brothers who are close in age, are known for their rivalry. It's always a competition with them--who can have the most spectacular disasters, who can sleep with the most ladies... Both are known for their fiery tempers and obstinacy, but Poseidon I imagine to be a little less stern than his brother, a little more friendly. Poseidon, much like the sea itself, is a complicated and ever-changing god, sometimes cruel and vengeful, an unstoppable force, and sometimes benevolent and helpful.

Even more famous than his rivalry with Zeus, however, is his bitter enmity with Athena, the goddess of wisdom. The two of them are polar opposites, so their competition is truly a battle of philosophies: reason versus emotion, logic versus passion. Athena never allows her emotional reactions to get in the way of what needs to be done, and can make any sacrifice necessary to win, but Poseidon's strength and weakness lies in his capacity to feel. This epic, allegorical struggle between head and heart is evident in The Odyssey: Odysseus, being very clever, is taken under Athena's wing, while Poseidon constantly tries to delay his journey home.

But how did such a bitter rivalry begin, you ask? Well, how did the Capulets become so angry with the Montagues? Actually, the competition began when a great city in Greece was trying to decide on a godly patron, Poseidon or Athena. The two gods gave the city gifts--Poseidon, an intricate salt water fountain; Athena, the olive tree. Seeing how useful the olive tree would be (in fact, olive oil is what made Ancient Greece the richest civilzation of its time), the citizens triumphantly chose Athena as their protector, and named their city--Athens--after her.

This did not sit well with Poseidon, obviously. Later, in retaliation, he and his girlfriend Medusa snuck into Athena's temple as though it were a Lover's Lane. When Athena caught them, because she couldn't do anything directly to Poseidon, she cursed Medusa and her sisters by turning them into hideous beings, the Gorgons. Medusa became so ugly that all who looked on her would turn to stone.

Despite their differences, Poseidon and Athena did collaborate peacefully on one occasion, to make something truly spectacular: the chariot. Poseidon created horses out of the sea foam (and is therefore referred to as the Father of Horses), and Athena, always the inventor, created the chariot. A perfect combination!

To conclude, I've always liked Poseidon. Like the sea, he's sometimes a little hard to read, sometimes dangerous, sometimes friendly, essentially benevolent, and more deserving of respect than fear. I actually think the Greeks were on the right track with this view of the ocean--it is so vast and so powerful, and when humans fail to respect nature as they should and admit that it is more powerful than themselves, it can really bite them in the butt. So, go enjoy your summer, and remember to give the water some proper respect, or else Poseidon might send a rip tide after you for your impudence. Happy swimming!

Enjoy your week,