Monday, November 21, 2011

Discussion: Greek Geek prt. 1

There are a few things you need to know about me.  But, for this post, there’s really only one thing you need to know (about me). 
I’m a Greek Geek.  This pretty much means I love all things Greek Mythology.  I am literally obsessed with Greek Mythology.  Just ask my family!  So, in honor of the fact that I love Greek Mythology, and because I’ve been wanting to write a non-review/meme but still bookishly related blog post, I’m writing this wonderful little collection of posts about Greek Mythology.

Today’s topic is how they vary.  Seriously, one way someone knows Greek Mythology is totally different from how another might.  Think about the story of Medusa, plus the add on story of Perseus and Medusa.  For those that don’t know what the heck I’m talking about, the former myth deals with how Medusa became an ugly monster while the latter deals with how she is killed.

Anyway, the way I know the myths go like this:
Medusa was a priestess of Athena.  As Athena is a virgin goddess, all of her priestesses had to vow to be a virgin.  However, Medusa is tempted by Poseidon, and not only looses her virginity but does so in Athena’s temple.

So yeah, Athena’s MAD.  So, naturally she curses Medusa!  Medusa’s then banished to a tiny island, where she lives in solitude because all mortals she meets turn to stone.

The next part happens in some other island of Greece.  A king has no male heirs, only a daughter, Danae.  A Oracle prophesizes that any children of Danae would kill the king.  So, he locks Danae in a tower.  Zeus, king of the Gods, takes the form of golden rain and drips in with Danae.  The next thing you know, Perseus is born.  The king finds out, but believing there was a god involved locks Danae and Perseus in a boatish-box instead of outright killing them.  Zeus helps them and they land on another island where they live with a kind fisherman.  Perseus grows up, all is well, and then the bad stuff happens.

The king of the island wants to marry Danae, but she doesn’t want to marry him, and Perseus keeps him from forcefully marrying her.  So the king sends Perseus to get Medusa’s head, a task many heroes have tried and failed to complete.

Zeus sends Athena and Hermes to help Perseus and they give him a shield, sword, and flying sandals and tell him to go to the Greae sisters so he can learn where Medusa lives.  So he does, and he steals there eyeball (ew, right?) because they only have one eyeball and one tooth that they share.

I know this is a pegacorn, as it has a horn (rhyme time). Sorry
They tell him where Medusa lives in return for their eye; he goes there, uses the shield as a mirror and chops of her head.  Out of her bloody body comes the Pegasus.  Then Perseus heads home to save his mother.  On the way he sees Andromeda, a princess chained to a rock to be sacrificed to the sea monster Ceres because her mother bragged she was more beautiful than the sea nymphs.  Perseus uses Medusa’s head to turn Ceres to stone and takes Andromeda home with him.

Back at the island, he goes into the kings court and says something along the lines of “I have Medusa’s head” and everyone looks as he pulls it out.  I bet you know what happened then!  Then he makes the fisherman that he and his mother lived with the king of the island and his mother marries him, and Perseus and Andromeda head back to where she lived.

On the way there they stop so Perseus can participate in some gaming event, and Perseus accidentally looses grip on his discuss and it hits one of the onlookers – who happens to be his grandfather.  And thus the prophecy is fulfilled.

So that’s the way I know it.  Another way follows the story all the way up until when perseus is sent to find Medusa’s head.  Instead of meeting Athena and Hermes, he only meets Hermes, who gives him the shoes and tells him where Medusa is but tells him to first visit the stygian nymphs for weapons.

So he goes to the Greae sisters because no one knows where the nymphs are.  He goes through the whole eyeball thing and they tell him where the nymphs live.  He goes and gets the sword, shield, and sometimes even Hades helm of invisibility.  The reast happens normally. 

Sometimes Andromeda is left out of the story.  Sometimes Perseus’ grandfather is at the kingdom where Perseus’ mother is and he sees Medusa’s head.  Sometimes Medusa’s sisters Euryale and Stheno are at the island where Medusa lives and he almost dies to them. 

This one time at the library I picked up a short book called “Medusa”.  In it was pretty much a little kids story of how Medusa became a monster.  I think the authors and publishers and editors were all on some drug when they wrote and published that book, because there weren’t even the fundamentals of the true story in it.  It said that Medusa was beautiful, and she caught the attention of Poseidon.  That’s when bad things began to happen.  The book next said the goddess of beauty Athena (that would be Aphrodite!)  was jealous because she liked Poseidon (Poseidon and Athena were rivals) so she turned Medusa ugly.

So as you can see, there are many variations, and although most at least share the same bones, sometimes you’ll get one like that.

Sorry for the lack of visual aids, it would be kind of gross.

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