Blogging A to Z Day 16: N is for Neptune (Poseidon)

I’m sure you’re familiar with Greek and Roman mythology, or you’d at least recognise the crazy-eyed, snake-haired monster with killer looks (that’s Medusa by the way!) The Greek Olympians are an intriguing, incestuous bunch of immortals, and I find them highly entertaining. So here’s a crazy idea, let’s treat them like the celebrities they no doubt were, and give them five-minutes of fame (or in this case a profile).

DEITY PROFILE:

Neptune, also known as Poseidon, is a power-hungry sea god, with a habit of losing his temper. Since his Greek publicity team tend to be the most influential (most resources follow Poseidon’s adventures), we’ll be deferring to them.

Poseidon is one of the twelve great Olympians, and a descendent of the Titans. He has the ability to generate savage sea storms, summon sea monsters and cause landslides and floods. He is considered by many as second in command to Zeus.

Greek Name Poseidon
Best Known for/Powers: Carries a trident (three pronged spear), which has many uses; such as summoning water (springs) from the earth, or generating sea storms. Poseidon has the power to shapeshift into any animal or mortal he chooses. Some of his more famous transformations are the horse, and ram.
General Opinion/Personal life: He has a reputation for being a violent god, one best avoided if possible. He answers only to Zeus and even then, his brother cannot always rein him in. He is feared by all, especially seafarers.
Appearance:

by Jinjorz (Deviant Art): Digital Art/Drawings & Paintings/Fantasy ©2010-2015 Jinjorz

by Jinjorz (Deviant Art): Digital Art/Drawings & Paintings/Fantasy ©2010-2015 Jinjorz

Tall, with a long flowing beard – he is rarely without his trident.
Siblings: Zeus; Hera; Hades; Demeter; Hestia
Spouse: Amphitrite
Other Associations: Like his brother, Zeus, Poseidon has taken many lovers – here are a few of his better known conquests:

Aethra: after leaving Aegeus’ bed (ruler of Athens), Aethra was approached by Poseidon and the pair made love (opinions vary on whether this was consensual).

Amymone: one of the fifty daughters of King Danaus. Poseidon rescued her from a satyr and as a reward he courted Amymone himself.

Demeter: his sister. Demeter transformed herself into a mare to escape Poseidon’s advances. This did not put him off though – he transformed into a stallion and mated with her in a pasture (they were both still in horse form).

Iphimedia: unhappily married to Poseidon’s son. Driven by her love for Poseidon, she set out to lure him – walking along the edge of the sea and stopping by the water to gain his attention. Their union resulted in two sons.

Medusa: a Gorgon (with snakes for hair and a stare that could turn anyone into stone). Some believe Medusa was once very beautiful and caught Poseidon’s eye. He approached her in one of Athena’s temples and they made love. This was unacceptable to the virgin goddess Athena, so she turned Medusa into a horrifying creature as punishment (she also told Perseus how to slay Medusa).

Theophane: very beautiful young girl with many suitors. Poseidon stole her away and took her to an island. When her suitors followed, Poseidon turned her into a sheep, along with everyone else on the island. He then turned himself into a ram and mated with Theophane while they both held their animal form.

Thoosa: daughter of Phorcys (a son of Gaia). Not much is known about this love affair.

Children: (With Amphitrite): Benthesicyme; Rhode; Triton.

(With Aethra): Theseus (some say Aegeus is the father).

(With Amymone): Nauplius.

(With Demeter): Desponia; Arion.

(With Iphimedia): Giants – Ephialtes; Otus (some say Iphimedia isn’t the biological mother).

(With Medusa): Chrysaor; Pegasus.

(With Theophane): a son who was never named – ram with a fleece of gold.

(With Thoosa): Polyphemus (Cyclops).

Enemies: There is considerable animosity between Poseidon and Athena. Here are just some of their disagreements:

Though Poseidon is god of the sea, Athena brought the art of shipbuilding to mortals (he blames her for brining man to the seas).

Poseidon is the god of horses and though there is some contention about whether he created or tamed them, Athena angered him further when she brought the bridle to mortals.

They fought for possession of the city Athens – Poseidon struck the ground at Acropolis with his trident and created a spring, and Athena planted an olive tree. Zeus interceded and though there are differing views on how the battle was decided, the fact remains, Athena won.

Poseidon has lost quite a few battles when it comes to city patronage. He was defeated when coming up against Dionysus (for Naxos); Apollo (for Delphi); Athena – again (for Troezen); Hera (for Argos), and Zeus (for Aegina).

Poseidon is the divine enemy of Odysseus because he blinded his son, Polyphemus. Poseidon is said to have shipwrecked Odysseus and delayed his return home to Ithaca for ten years.

He sent a bull from the sea to destroy a man named Hippolytus.

Trivia: His power extends beyond the sea to both lakes and freshwater springs. Some say he also controls the rivers (though rivers have their own, lesser deities.

Even though he has power over the sea, this is not enough for Poseidon – he believes he deserves more. His greed led him to challenge Zeus for power, but the plan failed.Poseidon believes he can heighten his standing by attaining the most patron cities, and does whatever he can to gain favour in as many cities as possible.

At Corinth, the Greeks celebrate one of the greatest athletics competitions in Poseidon’s honour.

Poseidon and Apollo were forced to help Laomedon, the king of Troy, to build walls around his city – as punishment for participating in the uprising against Zeus. They were to be compensated, but Laomedon refused, even though it took a full year to build. As revenge, Apollo sent a great plague to the city and Poseidon sent a sea monster. Though Apollo was satisfied with this, Poseidon wasn’t – he later sided with the Greeks in their battle against Troy (or at least until it suited him to change sides). He made it hard for everyone during the Trojan War.

A softer side: Poseidon is capable of kindness. Some of his acts include:

Allowing twin brothers Castor and Pollux a bit of his power – the ability to calm the seas. He also named them protectors of sailors (giving away some of his glory).

When Ino and her son Melicertes threw themselves into the sea, Poseidon took pity on them and turned them into sea deities.

He also gives away horses as a gift to those he favours.

References: The Everything Classical Mythology Book, by Lesley Bolton; The British Museum Pocket Dictionary of Greek and Roman Gods and Goddesses, by Richard Wolf, and 30-Second Mythology, edited by Robert A. Segal.

Blogging A to Z Day 14: The Lord of the Rings

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The Lord of the Rings is my favorite fantasy story. My mother read it to me when I was eight. She read me The Hobbit when I was six. I begged her to read LOTR for a year and a half until I persuaded her I was old enough to understand it and keep up.

A few years later I picked it up and read it on my own and the appendices gave me my first glimpse into the art of world building. My secret codes in middle school were all substitution ciphers using Tolkien’s alphabets. By the time I was 17, I was building my own world.

Two things set the Lord of the Rings apart from other fantasy epics set in constructed worlds. It’s set on this very planet in prehistoric times, and Tolkien used the languages as the starting point for building the world. That’s a neat trick if you can pull it off; I knew better than to even try it, and started with realistic geography instead.

When Diana and I started blogging in 2013, I decided to do a short series about The Lord of the Rings for Part Time Monster. That series is now in its 18th installment, and you can find the whole thing archived here. I’m planning to start it back up, and hopefully finish it, sometime this summer.

If you’re on the hunt for great Tolkien-related internet content, you might want to check out Sweating to Mordor, A Tolkienist’s Perspective, The Leather Library, and Middle Earth News. I follow them all and check in with them as often as I can. And do stop back by on April 23 to read what I have to say about the good professor himself.

Blogging A to Z Day 11: Joker

Geeks. Batman. It’s a thing. He’s already taken up several letters of this Geek Pastiche, and I have a hunch he’ll appear in a few more before the alphabet is through… But heroes are only as good as their villains, so it’s fitting we take a moment to address one of the most famous supervillains in or out of comics: The Joker.

Ever since his first appearance in 1940, the Joker has been wildly popular. Like most villains, he was first written as a one-story character. He even died at the end, but when Batman got a solo comic, the Joker became one of the first comic characters ever resurrected in order to boost sales. Since that time he’s been a mainstay of Batman stories in all kinds of media — from constant appearances in the comics, to endless animated variations, to the movie versions we all know and fear. Where you see Batman, you soon will see the Joker. Fans even complain about overexposure, but I contend that the Joker is such an integral part of Batman that they’re narratively inseparable — where there is Batman, there must be a Joker.

From the beginning the Joker has reflected Batman, and not in a superficial way. (That would be Man-Bat.) The Joker is Batman’s thematic funhouse-mirror reflection… In some ways, the two are always identical. In others, they’re opposites.

JokerOriginBatman famously lacks superpowers. Because of his appearance, it’s sometimes forgotten that the Joker isn’t “super” either. They’re both human men, driven to transform themselves into larger-than-life characters for dramatic effect. They’re both, for lack of a better word, insane. On the other hand, even in the lightest and campiest of stories Batman is a fundamentally serious person, and you need something wild to counter that. There’s one vision of total control and another of complete anarchy. One man whose origin is so codified as to be mythical, against another whose whole life story is constantly changing even in his own memory. One wealthy gentleman in a manor house, and one spectre happy in urban squalor.

On still another thematic level, the Joker is the perfect Batman villain because, while he is Batman’s equal and complement, he is also everything Batman fears: Meaningless and unknowable. He’s the monster who kills children and laughs about it, for no reason at all. Someone who can’t be punched into submission, because he has no motivation. He’s the ultimate challenge to Batman’s fundamental desire not to kill — because what else can you do with him?

Plenty of other great Batman stories exist, and there are any number of fantastic new stories waiting to be told. The Joker will forever reappear, though… Because you can’t tell the perfect Batman story without him.

ed. – Hannah’s Blogging A to Z this month at her own blog, Things Matter, and you can find her on Twitter at @HannahEGivens

Blogging A to Z Day 9: The Hunger Games

I first read The Hunger Games just after they released the U.S. paperback editions. I had some time over the summer to do some light reading, and I’d been hearing so much about the series that I decided to buy the set. I read them in less than a week, and I probably would’ve read them all in one sitting if I could’ve–I’m a sucker for dystopias and for well-rendered, badass female characters.

I knew from the second page of the book that Katniss Everdeen was going to be One of Those. She’s is stalking around outside her district, trying to hunt food without being caught. She is followed by a mountain lion, and she thinks of this creature as a friend for a while. But then the creature starts making too much noise, and she kills it. This is on the second page of the book.

This is a girl that we do not often see the likes of in literature. She is flawed, but she is strong. She’s strong enough to be a little frightening, and we know this immediately.

And then there was the society itself. A post-apocalyptic world with a vaguely familiar geography an exaggerated class stratification, a place where children fought one another in a frightening arena. The class differences were so obvious when they were pitted against one another, when children who’d gone hungry all their lives and never held a weapon had to fight children who’d trained like Spartan warriors for the day they’d volunteer for the battle.

And then it was televised. The death of 23 children every year, forced to fight one another. And all this a reminder  Panem, we find out in Mockingjay, is derived from the Latin panem et circenses-literally bread and circuses, but figuratively the cultural exchanges that happen when elaborate entertainments are used to pacify and to distract citizens from major problems.

Katniss changes things, though. She doesn’t do what the ringleader demands of her, and the circus begins to fall apart. The beauty of The Hunger Games lies in being in the center of the ugliness without actually being there. You’re looking in from outside—and then you realize that you’re in the place of a Capitol citizen, watching (or reading) vicariously while the horrific action unfolds around you.

Advertisements for the films, especially for the two-part Mockingjay conclusion, are very conscious of this framing. Fashion ads for the districts were published in magazines as promos for the film. Trailers aired in first-person-shooter. The marketing reinforced the panoptic feel of the series, and with stunning effect.

Mockjay Part 2 is due out November 1, and since I missed seeing Part 1 in theaters because it came out during my exams, I’m making sure to see this one in theaters. (And I’ll probably read the books before then, too!)

This post is by @parttimemonster of Part Time Monster and Sourcerer contributor. For more A to Z geekery, check out Part Time Monster!