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GREEK GODS BY THE NUMBER: THE MACHOS OF OLYMPUS

GREEK GODS BY THE NUMBER: THE MACHOS OF OLYMPUS

We covered the first ladies of Olympus in the last episode, where we did a little expo on Hestia, Demeter and Hera. Today, Testosterone will be flying around as we will be taking a peep into the lives of the three Olympian machos, Hades, Poseidon and Zeus.

HADES

This guy right here? Seriously misunderstood. I mean not everybody is born with a shimmering golden hair or sea-green eyes. Not everybody has lightning bolts or cool fork—trident. Some get a scary helmet that induces fear in people. Hades got the helmet and he was sent to the Underworld as the god of the Underworld. He was responsible for a lot. You think it is easy to organise dead souls? Do you know the number of people that die daily? A lot, I tell you, a lot. Apart from that, Hades did some major reconstructions in the Underworld when he took over. 

For instance, before Hades took office if you were rich, Elysium was granted. According to Greek legends, when a person dies, he would go to any of these three places: Fields of Asphodel, Fields of Punishment or Elysium. The first one, Fields of Asphodel was for people who just lived their lives in the grey. They were not bad but they were not exactly what you would call good people too. They didn’t hurt anybody and didn’t help anybody, just living their life without contributing to society. Fields of Asphodel was a place where they could continue doing that, just wandering around numbly. Fields of Punishment was a place for capital offenders. If your deed fell between felony and misdemeanour, you would probably find yourself there. There, souls would be tortured for all eternity. Elysium was for the good guys. You enjoy your afterlife like you are on an exotic beach in Hawaii with all you can eat-buffet and access to be reborn when you are tired of the enjoyment. To be reborn, a soul would drink from River Lethe (River of forgetfulness) to wipe away the memories of their previous lifetime. 

Before Hades, souls were not sorted out and everything was disorderly. Spirits could jump into Elysium if they had enough money from their burial rites, organised by their family. When Hades got there, he changed things up. First, you go to Elysium or any of the other destinations based on the kind of life you lived while on earth, not after. You determine where your soul would end up after death while you were alive.

A soul’s life would be tendered before the spirit judges and sentenced accordingly. And if you disagree with the judge’s decisions, the Furies of Hell would make you comply. Furies were hell’s enforcers and they were created from Ouranos’s ichor that spilt to the ground when Kronos killed him. The three Furies were one of the creatures the ichor created, we might still see some. Also, your money didn’t matter. A standard fee of one silver coin was all you needed to cross the River Styx. 

HADES

Hades was very creative with punishments. Like this Tantalus guy, he was the son of Zeus and one day, he was invited to Olympus to dine with the gods. He got greedy and wanted the ambrosia and nectar (food of the gods). His request was refused but Tantalus was not satisfied with that answer, he wanted to get back at the gods. He invited the gods to his house one day and offered them a meal. The gods soon realized that the roasted beef they were eating was Tantalus’s son. Zeus got furious and blasted Tantalus. When his soul got to the underworld, Hades made it more interesting. He planted Tantalus in a pool, waist level and unable to move. Just above his head hung a tree of variety of enticing fruits. It seemed like an easy punishment until Tantalus got hungry. He reached for the fruit but it grew further back. He stretched as much as he could with the water locked around him but he never got the fruits. That was his punishment; he would stay hungry forever while gazing at a Tantalizing tree.

Off to Hades’ relationship. You remember he got married to Persephone? I thought at least we would have a faithful god but nope! He cheated too. Hades abducted Leuke, one of the daughters of the Titan Oceanus and took her to the Underworld. (I know I said this guy was seriously misunderstood at first, but damn! He had issues. What happened to asking out the old-fashioned way?)

Persephone did not take it well when she saw that Hades has brought another woman home. Surprise, surprise. Hades was forced to choose between Persephone and Leuke. To have both, he turned Leuke into a poplar tree in the Field of Asphodel. Gee!

There was also this time he met a Naiad called Minthe. Long story short, Persephone caught them and squashed Minthe with her goddess giant foot. She wiped her feet off the ground after she had crushed her and green plants with sweet smell sprang from where she stepped. Persephone called the plant, Mint. Next time you use a mint mouth breathe or take mint sweets, you might want to remember that you are ingesting a dead river Naiad. 

Hades is the god of the Underworld and the first son of Kronos and Rhea. Greek heroes often dropped by the Underworld for one mission or the other and he never made it easy for them. And oh! Hades had a three-headed canine called Cerberus.

POSEIDON

Now, I love Poseidon. No reason in particular, I just love water so much! Poseidon is the second son of Kronos and Rhea and the fifth Olympian. He is the god of the sea which made him very powerful considering 71 per cent of Earth’s surface is water. Not to mention the water in the sky, earth or glaciers. Poseidon is also the god of horses and earthquakes—bottom line, don’t piss him off, especially if you live on an island, close to a sea or you work on one. 

He could cause massive tornados, earthquakes and storms. Dry up the water of an entire city or flood it like the time he and Athena, the goddess of wisdom contended to be the patron of Athens (formerly, Acropolis). After much back and forth, Athena became the patron of the city and it was renamed Athens. Poseidon did not take that well. He flooded a section of the city until the people built a consolation temple in the city to honour Poseidon too. 

Poseidon controlled the sea, he was the Aquaman of the Greeks so he could control sea creatures. And he proved that to Cassiopeia, the queen who bragged to be more beautiful than the sea Naiads. Poseidon sent the baddest serpent in the sea to spread terror around the town. The thousands of foot-long serpent destroyed their ships and ate their fishermen. Cassiopeia decided to sacrifice her daughter, Andromeda to appease Poseidon (not herself, her daughter) Poseidon, of course, helped a hero named Perseus, another Zeus’s son (shocker) to rescue Andromeda. Although to do that, Perseus killed Poseidon’s ex-girlfriend, Medusa. We will get to that soon. 

POSEIDON

Poseidon joined hands with Hera and other gods to plan the first coup and failed. They planned to overthrow Zeus. They each received punishment and Poseidon’s was to work as a labourer for the King of Troy, Laomedon, stripped of his powers. King Laomedon was not nice to Poseidon, he was a cruel king and Poseidon made sure to pay him back during the Trojan War.

The god of the sea wasn’t all bad in term of relationships. There was one sea Nereid that he really liked, Amphitrite. She was super gorgeous and wanted nothing to do with the gods. After much persuasion, she married Poseidon and they had three kids: Triton, Rhode and Kymopoleia, goddess of sea storms (seriously, where did they get all these names? I almost bit my tongue to call that).

Apart from his children with Amphitrite, Poseidon fathered great heroes like Bellerophon, Theseus and Periclymenus. He also fathered some pretty ugly bunch of kids like Polyphemus. He was a man-eating, humongous Cyclops, blinded by Odysseus. 

Before we leave the sea god, one more story about how he saved a damsel in distress by turning her into a ram! So this babe, Princess Theophane was so beautiful she couldn’t go one step without suitors swarming around her. You think it is nothing until you can’t go for a stroll in your street without ending on the celebrity gossip’s front page! Out of desperation, she prayed to Poseidon to save her. Poseidon promised to do so if she married him. Desperation makes people do crazy things. She agreed to Poseidon’s term and he told her to go the sheep pens when next the paparazzi swarmed her. That night, suitors came and she ran to the stables. The suitors couldn’t find her there and left. She looked at herself and realized she had turned into a ram and the ram next to her was Poseidon. They had cosy moments as rams and Theophane gave birth to a magical ram with golden wool called Krysomallos. This ram would be skinned eventually and his wool will be the all-healing Golden Fleece.

ZEUS

Zeus is the god of the sky, ruler of the Olympians and the last son of the Titan Rhea and Kronos—the only one that didn’t experience vacation in daddy’s gut. He was quite temperamental and that often affected the weather, so next time you see lightning or a thunderstorm out of nowhere, that might be dear old Zeusie. His signature weapon was his lightning bolts. He was married to Hera but he had several lovers that if we start naming them, we will be here till 2030. All the gods were unfaithful to their partners, especially the males—(there are very few records of a goddess’ unfaithfulness to her partner)—double especially, Zeus. You want proof? Zeus fathered six Olympians, Athena, Ares, Apollo, Artemis, Dionysus and Hermes. 

Hardly would you walk into a town or a city in ancient Greece and not meet at least two Zeus’s children that he had with a mortal woman. He often disguised himself to woo the ladies because no lady would want to get close to him—Hera’s reputation preceded her. And in some cases, Zeus got very creative and would transform into an animal, like in the case of a princess named Europa. Zeus whisked her away, while he was a bull, to an Island. She was stranded on the island with Zeus and well, they needed to populate the island so Europa had three sons for Zeus. 

Before Hera, Zeus was married to Metis -the Titan of good advice which was ironical seeing as she married Zeus. When she told Zeus she was pregnant, Zeus had a panic attack about how he murdered their father, the same way his father murdered his grandfather. So, what did he do? He opened his mouth as wide as he could and swallowed her whole. Zeus was his father’s son after all. 

ZEUS
ZEUS

After Metis, one would think no one would agree to marry a Titan-swallowing-god but oh no. Themis, the Titan of divine law married Zeus next. Themis and Zeus gave birth to two sets of triplets—fertility rate was super high those days. The first set was the sisters called Horai, they were responsible for changing seasons (no winter then). The second set was so creepy. They were born old, the Morai. We know them as the Three Fates. Have you ever watched a movie on Greek gods and you see three extremely old women that play with thread and when they cut a thread, someone dies? Yeah, they are the Three Fates, the daughters of Zeus. The Fates could see and control the future. Themis and Zeus broke up, (I used broke-up because I don’t think divorce had been invented then) I guess having old children who could control life through a thread scared them. Zeus was single for a while before he married Hera.

As I said, Zeus had quite the temper. A guy called Salmoneus once pretended to be Zeus to get offerings from the people of a city. Zeus found out and did not only kill the Salmoneus guy but also blasted the entire city into kingdom come. In my opinion, dealing with the guy was enough but what do I know? I am a mere mortal.

In fact, that wasn’t the best example of Zeus’s temper. Once, he decided to wipe out the entire human race. I don’t know what they did to deserve it but I am pretty sure it could not have been worse as the world is now. Maybe Zeus was just tired of seeing tiny humans scattered across the globe. Anyway, the other gods of Olympus couldn’t go against him so they secretly warned all their favourite humans. So when Zeus, with the help of Poseidon, drowned the earth, few humans survived to start the bronze age of the human race. 

Okay! We have covered the macho men of Olympus. In the next episode, we will explore the other half of the Olympians, their offspring. 

S.A. TRINITY

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5 Responses

  1. Gee, seems I was watching a movie!

    Very exciting from start to finish!

    I should go back to those God’s movies, Trinity has made it interesting to watch them.

    Thank you

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