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Friday, September 29, 2017

F³ Wish List

            I took the letter, which was more of a note than mine had been.


            I paused, glancing over at Nikki. Very few people knew her real name. I wasn’t surprised by Nick knowing it, but it was still jarring to see it in print. I knew it would be even more jarring for Nikki.
            She nodded at me. I continued reading.

Monday, September 25, 2017

M³ If You Strike Me Down

            As I said, I’m not going to go through all of Herc’s labors and adventures . . . yet. I might come back to them at a later date, but for now I want to skip all the way to the end. Herc, somewhere along his many labors, finds the time to marry Deianira—third time’s the charm, right? (wrong).

Friday, September 22, 2017

F³ Hot Chocolate & Memories

            “I had no idea Nick could be such a jerk,” I muttered.
            “Hmm?” Nikki said, all her concentration on her letter.
            The awkward silence stretched on for a moment. I really wanted to know what was in Nikki’s letter, but it would be rude—potentially dangerous—to read over her shoulder, so I didn’t.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

M³ Cultural Assimilation

            Yes, it’s Wednesday, not Monday, but this is a special edition (which I meant to have up on Monday, but ran out of time). One of my readers has asked for an explanation regarding Helios and Apollo. Why are they both the sun god?
            Well, okay, here goes. Because Greeks.
            Yeah, I didn’t think that would satisfy anyone.
            So both Helios and Apollo are listed as the sun god in Greek mythology.
            The reason for this is because the Greeks—like DC and Marvel comics—didn’t care much about continuity. Most of the Greek gods weren’t originally Greek. Only a handful were. While we think of them collectively as the Ancient Greeks, they were anything but. Athens, Sparta, Rhodes, Ithaca, Crete, Argos, and all of the others were separate kingdoms or city-states that were more united by the assimilating mythology than by anything else. As some kingdoms and city-states began to create political alliances and conquer other places, they found these people had their own, local gods. The crafty Greeks realized there was no reason to strike these people down to get them to worship Zeus when they could win through guile. It might have gone something like this:

            “Have you heard the good news about Zeus?”
            “Well, sir, I’m sure he’s a fine god, but we worship Apollo.”
            “Do you? Well, that’s great! Apollo is the son of Zeus; the gods are all related, so really you worship Zeus anyway.”
            “Is that so? Well, come in and have some pie and tell me all about Zeus.”

            I might have made up the bit about pie.
            By explaining that all of these regional gods are related to Zeus, Greek culture spread without overwriting the existing culture. It also explains why Zeus slept around so much; he had to father the other gods.
            And so one island worshiped Helios as the sun god, and others worshiped Apollo. Now, two gods cannot hold the same job, so they fudged things a bit. The myth states that Helios is pulled across the sky, which actually makes him the sun.
            Apollo, on the other hand, is simply the god of the sun. it’s a subtle difference, but it allows both gods to exist in the same pantheon. Helios literally is the sun, and coasts across the sky every day, while Apollo takes all the credit for being the god of the sun. Apollo doesn’t like responsibilities, anyway, so he would be a poor choice to make sure that the sun goes across the sky everyday.
            So in the end the doubling (and even tripling) up of gods with similar jobs is because the Greeks kept assimilating new cultures. Instead of replacing gods, they simply added them to the mix and created a convoluted family tree with weird job assignments. It can make for difficult reading at times because the myths don’t come with complete historical notes telling when each god entered the mix. Add in the fact that there are regional variations to myths, and it becomes a soup in telling who is who and what is what.
            The big thing to remember, however, is that there is no such thing as a definitive version of the story. In some myths, Aphrodite is Zeus’s literal daughter, and her mother is Dione. In another, she is Zeus’s adopted daughter (Gaea is her mother Gaea and her father some pieces that Uranus no longer needed). Some versions are more popular than others, and most of them have specific regions where they were popular, but each of them tells something different about the values of the people.

Monday, September 18, 2017

M³ Stable Boy

            Yes, I know, I skipped the hydra. Well, I’m not out to chronicle all of Herc’s labors. The hydra story is good, yes, and shows off that herc can adapt to circumstances, but the stables, the stables truly showcase Herc’s cleverness.

Friday, September 15, 2017

F³ Christmas Letters

            “Looks like you got two, only one of them is from me,” I said, returning to the couch.
            Nikki’s eyebrows knit together in thought, considering the two envelopes. “Is this from . . . ?”
            “Looks like his handwriting.”

Monday, September 11, 2017

M³ Lion Among Us

            Often listed as the first labor is that of slaying the Nemean lion. The lion terrorized the countryside, often abducting women to lure would-be heroes to rescue them. Of course, it cheated. Its fur was impervious (Superman levels of impervious) to weapons. Hercules tried arrows, which bounced to no effect. On the reverse, its claws could cut through any armor, so it had a distinct advantage against anyone who came for it. To overcome it, Hercules had to go for brute force, using his strength to strangle the creature.

Friday, September 8, 2017

F³ Extra Gifts

            “So, do you want your present?” I asked.
            “You already gave me a fresh sprig of mistletoe, days ago.”
            “Doesn’t mean that was your only gift.”

Monday, September 4, 2017

M³ You Won't Like Herc when He's Mad

            We fast forward a bit past Herc’s childhood. Sure, there was the thing with the snakes Hera sent against him, his feeding incident which created the Milky Way, and he grew up learning from the best and the brightest, but we want to see a serious struggle, right? Right. So we come to the most devastating act of revenge that Hera ever implemented.
            She drove Hercules mad.

Friday, September 1, 2017

F³ The Next Day

            Nikki, good as her word, showed up at my place Christmas morning. She didn’t look her usual stunning self. She looked tired and run-down, and lacked the usual sparkle in her eyes. Given all that, though, she had attempted to be in the spirit of the day, dressing in a red and white dress straight out of White Christmas, the part at the end. The dress flattered and hugged her without revealing. As usual, she was elegant.
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