Posts Tagged "gods"

Sisyphus | The Man, The Myth, The Rock

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time, in a not-so-nice part of Greece (back in the time of Mythology), there lived a king named Sisyphus. By the sound of his name you might think that he was bullied a lot. You would be wrong because he was meaner, nastier, and more powerful than anyone else. Also he was king and had a lot of soldiers at his command.

Sisyphus had lots of bad habits like chewing with his mouth open and killing travelers and guests. (Killing guests back then was an especially Wrong Thing To Do.) But Sisyphus had a marvelous time being a despot and decided that Manners weren’t going to intrude on his tyranny.

For reasons that are complicated and not all that interesting, Zeus got good and mad at Sis. Zeus ordered Thanatos to chain up Sisyphus in the lowest level of Hades.

On the one hand, Thanatos was a minor figure in Greek mythology. On the other hand, he was Death, so chaining people in Hades was well within his job description.

Sisy didn’t really like the idea of being chained up, so he tricked Thanatos by asking Thanatos (who after all wasn’t the god of wisdom) to demonstrate how the chains worked. Flattered, Thanatos obliged and Sisyphus trapped Thanatos in the aforementioned chains.

Back in the rest of the world, while Thanatos was chained up no one could die. For a short time, this wasn’t a big deal, but people were pretty accustomed to Death, especially the warriors who liked to see people die (because that was the whole point of fighting). Ares (our favorite god of war) was particularly put out, so he freed Thanatos and turned Sisyphus over to him.

Because of his trickery in this and other things and his hubris in thinking he was more clever than Zeus (have we not been clear that it is never wise to think you’re smarter/prettier/stronger than one of the gods), King Sisyphus was punished. And the Greek gods were known for their ability to punish people.

Sisyphus was made to push an enormous boulder up an even more enormous hill. Only just before he got to the top, the enchanted boulder would roll away from him and to the bottom of the hill. Rinse and repeat for all eternity.

Love, Mom

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How Much Do You Know About Pandora?

Dear Kid,

Waaaay back, before Pandora was a music station, even before Pandora was jewelry, she was a box. More accurately she was a myth. Even more accurately she was a Miss in a myth with a myth-sterious box.

Maybe I’d best start at the beginning.

NOT what Pandora found in her box. DearKidLoveMom.comOnce upon a time, Zeus got mad at Prometheus (who had given fire to the humans). As we know, Zeus had anger management issues. Anger issues, combined with cunning, combined with god-like power is a potent mixture, and Zeus was nothing if not potent.

So he decided to get back at Prometheus and his brother (Epimetheus) and all of mankind. He was that kind of a god.

Zeus had Hephaistos (I don’t think we’ve talked about Hephaistos. He is/was the blacksmith god, the god of volcanoes and melting metal and stuff like that. Known as Vulcan in Roman mythology and Birmingham, Alabama.) forge a beautiful woman. Don’t ask why a smith should be the one to forge a beautiful woman—that’s how the story goes.

Zeus named the woman Pandora (which means “all-gifts”) and gave her as a present to Epimetheus.

Now, my dear child, what have we learned about gifts from the gods? Basically that you’re in deep doo-doo. You will offend the gods if you refuse the gift (gods do not accept rejection well) and you’re clearly screwed if you accept the gift (gifts come with strings and conditions and other problems).

Faced with the choice of offending Zeus and getting a beautiful bride or offending Zeus and getting nothing, Epimetheus went with Door Number 1 and chose to marry Pandora. (For the record, Prometheus warned him not to, but since when do siblings really listen to each other?)

Zeus also did one other sneaky thing. He gave Pandora a box. With a really big lock on it. And told her never, ever, ever under any circumstances whatsoever was she to open the box. And he gave the key to Epimetheus.

I told you Zeus was pissed, right? Because no way could Pandora (who had been made for beauty not brains) avoid thinking about what was in the box.

And the more she thought about what might be in there, the more she wanted to open the box. And the more she wanted to open the box, the more she begged Epimetheus for the key. And the more she begged him for the key, the more he said no (why he didn’t take it to the vault is beyond me). And the more he said no, the more she absolutely positively had to see what was in the box.

One day, Pandora opened the box. (Reports on how she opened it vary. It may have been that Epimetheus fell asleep and she stole the key. It may have been that she just broke the big lock. It may have been that the lock was just a small seal and not a big deal to break. Investigative journalism was not very thorough in those days.)

The very instant the box cracked open, all the troubles we now know about flew out. There was disease, and worry, and crime, and hate, and envy, and sloth, and short hems, and ugly shoes, and badly applied makeup, and strife, and every other bad thing you can think of (as well as several you can’t possibly imagine).

Pandora slammed the box shut (bam!) and tried to catch all the bad things to put them back in the box. But they were well and truly gone. Still Pandora could hear one last thing in the box. She was afraid to open it, but eventually she did. Out flew one last little thing.

It was beautiful. It was Hope. Zeus had included Hope in the box to keep people going when the nasties got to be too much.

Love, Mom


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The Story (More or Less) of Perseus | Part II

Dear Kid,

In case you have forgotten everything from yesterday (it was a long time ago, I know), I shall provide a brief recap. (Or you can go read Part I in its entirety.)

King Acrisius was told by the Oracle that his grandson (Perseus) would kill him. So Acrisius put his daughter Danae and her baby son Perseus (who also happened to be the son of Zeus) in a chest and tossed them in the sea hoping they’d drown. They ended up in King Polydectes’ realm. After Perseus grew up Polydectes decided he wanted to marry Danae. She said Eww. And in defense of his mother, Perseus said he’d get Polydectes anything he wanted. Polydectes sent Perseus off to get the head of Medusa (and hopefully die).

Any questions?


If you’ve seen Clash of the Titans, it might have something to do with this story (so My Friend the Internet tells me), but as I haven’t seen the movie I can’t comment. Well, I can’t comment accurately.

So there was Perseus, wandering around, not having a clue where he was going and feeling generally down about Life when poof! Athena and Hermes just happen to show up. Sibling relationships among gods and demigods are never straightforward but in this case they offered to help Perseus. Hermes lent Perseus his winged sandals and Athena lent him her shield. They also gave him directions on how to find Medusa and how to kill her. All of which was very useful.

Perseus said Thank You very nicely because his mother had taught him well and it’s never a good idea to annoy the gods even if you are siblings.

Eventually Perseus got to Medusa’s digs (I’m leaving out the long, complicated bits—you’re welcome) and he lopped of Medusa’s head and then dumped it into a magic bag. After which he had a bunch of adventures (I’m leaving most of them out—you’re welcome).

On his way home, however, he saw a Beautiful Maiden chained to a rock. It was Andromeda (remember her? She was chained to a rock because of a different oracle and her vain momma, Cassiopeia). Perseus fell in love, freed her from her chains (turned an annoying sea monster into stone using Medusa’s head), and married Andromeda.

They stopped at a lovely island so Perseus could compete in the Games (think American Ninja Warriors but with togas, races, and throwing things). Perseus did very well except when he threw the discus it hit an old man who died. News flash: the old man was his grandpa, King Acrisius, who was trying to avoid the death the oracle had predicted. Did I mention you can’t outsmart an oracle?

Then Perseus and Andromeda went home so Andromeda could meet her new Mom-in-Law and they found out that King Polydectes was still saying “marry me” and Danae was still saying “no way” and Polydectes hadn’t really read up on How to Treat Women. This Pissed Off Perseus in a big way.

Being a Good Boy, Perseus hiked up to the castle, told his friends to shut their eyes, pulled Medusa’s head out turning everyone else into stone, and took his mom off to meet his bride and live happily ever after. Until they died and got put in the sky as stars.

And that is exactly what happened.

Love, Mom

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The Story of Medusa and Pissing Off the Gods

Dear Kid,

Once upon a time there was a beautiful maiden who was one of Athena’s priestesses.

Since we’re talking about Greek mythology, it will not surprise you to learn that the beautiful maiden made a Horrible Mistake and royally pissed off Athena. As previously noted, one should not go around angering the gods.

As you doubtless (without a doubt) remember, Athena is the goddess of Wisdom and War. Which means not only can she kick your butt to New Jersey and back, she’ll be smart about it.

In this particular case, Beautiful Medusa’s (that was the beautiful maiden’s name) Big Mistake was temporarily forgetting that (as a priestess of Athena) she was supposed to be celibate. She married Poseidon who immediate made sure she wasn’t celibate a moment longer.

Athena was less than amused to see one of her priestesses poo-poo her vows and turned Beautiful Medusa into Hideous Medusa. Hideous Medusa was beyond unattractive. She had snakes instead of hair; horrid, bloodshot, bulgy eyes; and her skin was ghastly green. Seventeen Magazine did not ask her to pose for their August cover.

Just to make matters worse (and by “worse” I mean more interesting for the story), Athena cursed Medusa so that anyone who looked at Hideous Medusa would turn immediately into stone.

Note: It is impossible to eat chocolate if you’re made of stone.

Hideous Medusa was greatly unhappy (duh) and wandered around Africa shedding hair-snakes which is why there are so many poisonous snakes in Africa.

Eventually Medusa was killed by Perseus, but that’s another story for another day.

Interesting, when Perseus killed Medusa, she gave birth to Chrysaor and Pegasus (the white, flying horse with beautiful wings, second only to unicorns as the animal little girls want to have. Or be.). If you’re into genealogy, Poseidon was the papa (you remember the whole lack of celibacy thing, right?).

Now you know.

Love, Mom

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Things We Learned On The Drive to Key Largo

Dear Kid,

We learned all kinds of things on the drive from Orlando to Key Largo.

Burglar Notice—Just kidding. We’re home. With our Vicious Attack Dog.

We learned there are services that dog groomers offer that we’d rather not know about.

We learned that you should not cross your legs while riding a moped (and that a wreath on a moped looks ridiculous).

We learned you need to be wary of falling coconuts when you are near coconut palms (and we learned that coconuts come from coconut palms not Some Other Coconut Tree).

Watch Out for Falling Coconuts! Key Largo

We learned that vans advertise butt lifts and breast augmentation and that such a van causes much discussion among people who live in Ohio.

We learned there are signs implying that people need to watch for falling bikes in Miami.

And we learned that driving to Key Largo is a Sisyphean task. Let me explain.

Once Upon a Time (not to worry, this is the short version), there was a King named Sisyphus. He was not a nice person (in Mythology, nice people are boring and don’t get stories written about them). Sisyphus had a bad habit of bragging about being more clever than the gods (which as we know is not smart) and of killing travelers and guests (which was not only not nice, it was a real affront to the gods).

Skipping over the middle of the story (you can read it on your own if you so desire), Sisyphus ended up in Hades (the land of the dead) pushing a huge boulder up a big hill. Not only does Sisyphus have to push the boulder to the top of the hill, the boulder never makes it. Each time Sisyphus gets close, the boulder rolls down to the bottom of the hill. So Sisyphus must spend eternity in useless effort and endless frustration.

Like driving to Key Largo through Miami.

Original estimated arrival time: 3:45pm. Around 5pm, there was an hour left to drive. At 5:30pm, there was an hour left to drive. At 6pm, there was an hour left to drive. It felt like we were on a car treadmill—with no potty breaks.

Dinner at Mrs Mac's Kitchen in Key Largo

We learned that dinner at Mrs. Mac’s Kitchen is still delicious and that Key Lime Fudge is yummy-to-die-for.

Love, Mom

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