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.

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Doctor Who Series 8 Episode 3: “Robot of Sherwood” Review

by William Hohmeister

Confession: I missed the last 30 seconds or so of “Into the Dalek”, so I didn’t hear Clara say that she didn’t have a rule against soldiers. This lightened my attitude toward her a bit, and made the ending more tolerable, since she clearly feels something about leaving Journey Blue behind.

Robot of Sherwood” is surprisingly good. I expected to dislike it; the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) and Clara (Jenna Louise-Coleman) meet Robin Hood (Errol Flynn) and robots. I don’t like the Robin Hood legend, and robots appear as villains too often in Doctor Who. But this is my favorite episode of series 8 Doctor Who so far. It does pretty much everything right, even the goofy ending.

Clara gets to pick the destination this time, and she insists on Robin Hood (Kevin Costner). The Doctor claims he isn’t real, but lands in 1190 Sherwood Forest. Robin greets the Doctor with an arrow and tries to mug him. The Doctor pulls out a dueling glove and a large spoon.

They duel on a log over a stream and the Doctor knocks Robin into the water with a fancy move. The episode is full of Robin Hood tropes, and the duel means you’re in with Robin’s gang. He takes Clara and the Doctor to his hideout, where Clara joins the ranks of Companions creating history by dubbing Robin’s group the “Merry Men.” She and Robin talk, while the Doctor takes hair, blood, and “other” samples from the Merry Men for testing. The Doctor is convinced Robin is not real, and remains so for most of the episode.

The Sheriff of Nottingham (Ben Miller) and masked Knights kidnap peasants for labor and steal gold from the rest. When a peasant mouths off, the Sheriff kills him with a great pre-mortem one liner: “You’ll live to regret that… Actually, you won’t.” He also sets up the classic trap for Robin Hood (Sean Connery), an archery contest.robot-of-sherwood-doctor-bow

The best scenes in this episode are all silly. When Robin enters the contest, he wins by splitting the Sheriff’s arrow in two. Before he can claim the gold arrow as his prize, the Doctor splits that arrow. He and Robin one-up each other until the Doctor gets exasperated and blows up the target. The Sheriff arrests them, and the knights reveal themselves as robots. The Doctor is smug and glad, and surrenders quickly.

The rivalry between Robin and the Doctor deepens in the dungeon. Clara acts as the moderating voice, but even she gets fed up. A guard picks her as the leader, and takes her away. While she interrogates the Sheriff, Robin and the Doctor try to escape. They knock out the guard, but both try to grab the keys and accidentally kick them away. The Doctor says, “Well, there is a bright side here. Clara didn’t see that.”

Clara is at her best in the interrogation. She leads the Sheriff on without ever becoming as sleazy as he is, and gets his plans, his history, and his motivations. She pretends to have met the robots as well, and the eagerness with which the Sheriff believes her is pathetic. The Sheriff is my favorite villain so far because he is believable. He feels ill-used and lonely, but he’s also a total creep when he hits on Clara. He seems somewhat insane, as he rambles on about a vague plan to conquer England, then “the WORLD!” with the robots’ spaceship.

The Doctor and Robin stumble into that same ship, and the Doctor searches the computer. He finds references to Robin Hood (Tom Riley), and tries to tear him down as a fake. He loathes the idea that Robin might actually exist. The Sheriff finds them, but Robin escapes with Clara as the Doctor is captured again.

sherrifThe Doctor creates a riot with the kidnapped peasants, and nearly breaks out before the Sheriff appears. He claims the Sheriff and Robin are in on the plot together, but the Sheriff points out: “Why would we create an enemy to fight us? What sense would that make? That would be a terrible idea.” Seriously, the Sheriff is super-cool. He baffles the Doctor with common sense. The Doctor is forced to realize he’s wrong about Robin.

Robin and Clara reappear to save the Doctor. The ending has an odd misstep: the Doctor and Clara stand and watch while Robin duels the Sheriff. The episode is paced so well that this really stood out. Robin knocks the Sheriff into the vat of molten gold, but the ship takes off. Without more gold it won’t reach orbit, and the exploding engines will take out half of England!

The gold arrow is so, so goofy, but it fits the episode. I see it as a reaffirmation of heroes doing impossible things. Before leaving, the Doctor and Robin talk about heroes. The Doctor despises heroes and legends. Robin and the Merry Men are both. They fight impossible odds, laugh at death, and show up just in time. Robin says he’s not a hero, but by pretending he inspires others.

This shakes the Doctor up. It’s been a while since we’ve gotten a real character arc, so this is especially welcome. Both Robin and the Doctor started off as similar characters, but with a drastic difference: Robin believes in heroes, the Doctor does not. Robin Hood is impossible to the Doctor. He knows from long experience that silly heroics don’t save the day.Robot_of_Sherwood_RobinHood

The gold arrow saves the day, though, against good sense and gravity. It shows that heroes are rewarded. The scene is ridiculous I think because believing in the Doctor and Robin Hood is ridiculous. The success of the arrow mirrors their own possible success as actual, big damn heroes.

Other things of interest: What is the Doctor writing on the blackboard as the episode begins? It looks similar to his scrawling in “Deep Breath.” And where was Missy? I expected her to pick up the Sheriff. We see his hands, covered in dripping gold, reaching out of the vat. I hope he comes back. Finally, why do only robots believe in the Promised Land?

images © BBC

What do private detectives, samurai, and gunslingers have in common?

by William Hohmeister

I don’t need to tell you folks I love myths. But I want to explain something peculiar about myths that make me love them. Each myth has a whole set of historical, religious, and cultural assumptions behind it.

Those things create the myth, which represents the whole set better than a simple list could; it’s why Jesus spoke in parables, why Nietzsche wrote Thus Spake Zarathustra, and why C.S. Lewis replaced Jesus with a much more awesome lion. Myths create stories around the beliefs we already hold and communicate those beliefs to the next generation.

The lone wanderer myth has a strange history in the United States. In Japan he’s called the Samurai. In America he’s the cowboy, the gunslinger, and the private detective. Each character fulfills the mythic role, but in a different way. This leads to a strange series of homages/ripoffs between American and Japanese creators:

Red Harvest, by Dashiell Hammet is adapted into Yojimbo, by Akira Kurosawa.

Yojimbo, by Akira Kurosawa is adapted into A Fistful of Dollars, by Sergio Leone.

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Because every city deserves a Batman.

by Jeremy DeFatta

Happy new book day, everyone! As promised, this week’s post focuses on one of Grant batman-incorporatedMorrison’s greatest additions to the Batman mythos, Batman, Incorporated, and all the odd little philosophical underpinnings associated with it.

Following his apparent death and subsequent (if you will) dislodgement in time, Bruce Wayne returns to his own era with a fresh idea: if crime is a genuine problem (as we know it is), then the greatest conceivable solution to it is (of course) Batman. Therefore, wherever there is a large concentration of criminals, there must also be a Batman.

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