A New Olympian God
Olympus, city of Hephaestus
Athena kept on walking until we reached what is seemed like the end of the city. Even though Athena called it a town I cannot bring myself to accept that such a place is just a town. A small and narrow river, yet not shallow enough to be considered a stream, flows there. It marks the ending, the border of the city. It divides the ground right in two parts. Behind me the whole lonely city with its saddening story. In front of me there is a field of grass, and broad stairs leading to an enormous door. The door is much bigger than the “skinny” golden gate, entrance of Hephaestus’ city. It is hefty and wide. The only common feature between the two must be the height, even in that aspect the door looks a little taller than the gate.
“This door is made with marble. Hephaestus sculpted on it the chronicles of our fight for freedom. Not only our past! He sculpted the past of godly beings and the “journey” of the world until now.” Athena then lifts both of us up to a specific part of the sculptured door.
“We were born from Cronos and Rea. Our father Cronos is a titan and a strong one. In fact, he was the leader of the titans. Our mother Rea was a human titan because of a curse from her grandmother Nyx. She had the powers of a titan, but she was the size of a human like you. Also, she was allowed to only interact with humans. Even so Cronos fell in love with her from the first moment. I believe that is what you mortals like to call as love in first sight.”
I let out a light laugh! It is a laugh of agreement and understanding, but also that of amusement! Hearing a god referring to love in first sight as a thing only mortals do, while they seem capable of understanding love pretty well. It might give you the feeling of separation between human and gods. Still, I am happy noticing that gods and humans share common elements.
“Cronos “forced his way through” ignoring the curse and finally he stole Rea from the human world bringing her to Erebus, motherland of titans.” Athena continues without expressing anything towards my little laugh. Gods or titans, every divine being can freely visit the human world. The opposite is quite difficult, but as my case proves not completely impossible.
“Naturally, he had to face the consequences. The curse led to a prophecy that their children will dethrone and kill him. Rea birthed many kids, all known to you mortals as gods, and Cronos ate every one of them. Except for the last, Zeus! Gaia, Rea’s mother, could not stand watching her child suffer and mourn. She decided to help her and deceive Cronos. She took Zeus from Rea to raise him safely. When Cronos demanded to eat the kid Rea gave him a rock in baby’s blankets, while pretending that she have swaddled tightly an infant. At first Cronos believed it, but soon enough the fairytale came to an end, and it was not a happy one. She killed Rea and began searching to do the same with Zeus. Gaia did not intend for blood to be spilled nor for a fight between father and son. She wanted to unite the family, but in the end, she lost her daughter. From now on she changed Zeus’s upbringing methods, she raised him to grow up and face his father. The rest of the story is the records of «Τιτανομαχία», the clash of the titans, the great war between titans and gods. I believe you are well aware of that Isocrates!”
Athena refers to the documents written by humans who gods choose to tell some of their past stories. We call them historians and their documents history. The legend says that the gods appear in their dreams telling the historians about the past. The problem is that you can never know if and to whom they appear. But even if you knew that a historian is a genuine one, and not a fake. There is another problem. To what degree the original story is preserved? As I just learned from listening to Athena’s story, historians can fail to truthfully and accurately record the gods’ words in their documents.
“I do know about «Τιτανομαχία». However, I did not know the details about Nyx and Gaia, not to mention the curse. It seems our history is a bit off. Most importantly, why did Nyx curse Rea?” I ask because I am really interested to hear the entire, true story and find out the differences with our history.
“Haha, you mortals cannot hide your human side! You really are curious to know, aren’t you? Your historians are not incompetent, but their nature and sometimes gods’ will are what is restricting them from writing a perfect document of history. Since we have plenty of time in our hands I shall proceed and answer your question before we move on.”
It is the first time I see Athena expressing any kind of reaction to my questions after meeting her. A simple, and honest laugh. As expected from the goddess of wisdom she even chooses her smile wisely. Also, she has a good understanding of the situation with history documents, and she provided me with the important “clue” that sometimes gods do not want us to know the whole story. I wonder if the gods always tell historians the truth about the past or they prefer to misrepresent the story on purpose. As I am pondering if gods are deceiving us or not, Athena has started talking again. She points with her finger or hand at certain areas of the door, while directing us there with her levitating ability.
“Nyx, Rea’s grandmother, is a divine being and one of the primordial gods along with her brother Eros and her parents Chaos and Mera. Eros, the deity of genesis and creation, “gave birth” to Gaia and Uranus. Nyx cursed Rea because she was a child of siblings. Eros wanted to create several other titans to form a new world, but he knew that his sister, Nyx, would be against it. He asked his father Chaos for his assist. Chaos seized the opportunity! Chaos finds pleasure in anarchy. He fought Erebus, one of the other divine beings and a primordial god. He won and forced Erebus to become dormant, forever asleep until he is awakened from his eternal slumber. As he was falling asleep Chaos chanted an incantation converting Erebus into a vast land thereafter known as the home of titans. In that place the titans, creations of Eros would be safe from Nyx’s curses.”
The explanation behind Nyx’s curse has some similarities with the story of Hephaestus’ city. Especially the severity of Zeus’ punishment resembles the harshness of Chaos. It seems that the life of godly beings is full of disputes, and you pay the full price for your defeats and mistakes.
“Her curse upon Rea could not be removed though. Right after Erebus’ “death” his sister Tartarus “came into play” revealing her furious side. Annoyed and enraged she resented Chaos and fought with him for weeks. Their battle was fierce and extremely violent. They crashed planets! They tore each other’s flesh apart! Their limbs were dismembered! They have regenerative abilities so that was no problem. They clashed in several forms, as giants, as dragons, as beasts, as titans, as gods, as divine creatures. They were biting each other’s body. They were punching each other’s face. They were hitting each other with massive aggression! Their hands and fists, their paws and claws were covered with blood. Eyes were being gouged out, and skin was being scratched off! It was a ferocious fight between those two.”
Athena is trying to describe the brutality and cruelty of the battle between the two of them in the best way possible. She managed to persuade me; definitely it was a fight that you would not want to participate, and you would not even want to watch if a beloved person were getting hurt in it.
“The battle was long and painful. Almost two months have passed, when Mera, Chaos’ wife, decided to intervene. She tried to end it in a peaceful way, she tried to convince them to stop. She asked her husband Chaos to bring back Erebus, to wake him up from his sleep and let him live with his sister Tartarus. Chaos did not like his wife proposal, for he entertains himself via his malevolent actions. He likes to cause harm and destroy, but since Mera is the exact opposite of him Chaos suppresses his desires to some extent.”
“I guess it must have been extremely difficult for Mera watching her husband fighting to death for so long.” I make a brief remark trying to learn more about Mera’s character from Athena without stopping the flow abruptly.
“Certainly, Mera was not happy at all with that battle. Still the reason she decided to get involved was not fear of losing her husband. Mera is a cheerful, kind, full of joy and benevolence divine being. She was not pleased with Chaos’ way of doing things. She tried to avoid an outcome similar to the fight of him and Erebus.”
My guess was wrong! Mera was not trying to protect Chaos, she was trying to save Tartarus. This comes in accordance with her character description given by Athena. A benign primordial god. She is the first divine being having such a merit as her characteristic. I hope she is not the only one with fine qualities!
“Tartarus seemed to be in worse shape than Chaos, so Mera might foresaw her defeat. Nonetheless her move to set foot on battlefield materialised the worst possible scenario for her husband. It gave Tartarus a chance and she took advantage of it right away. Tartarus captured Mera and threatened to kill her. But Tartarus could not have imagined what would come next. Chaos knew that Mera was not capable of fighting back. Immediately he turned into a maniac. He attacked Tartarus in the blink of an eye. It was an all-out, vicious attack. Tartarus knew that if Chaos’ attack has landed a hit, it would have been critical. Seeing the uncontrolled Chaos jumping on her, she had no other choice. She had no time to spare, and she could not use Mera to her advantage anymore. Even killing her would have been for naught. She chanted an incantation and turned dormant, transforming herself to land. Mera was forcefully being taken along with her into “sleep”. Chaos did not stop his attack. He was attacking the land as it was taking form. He had already noticed that he was not attacking Tartarus anymore, and he knew that she was turning into land together with his wife Mera. His savage attacks became a replacement for his grief. He was lamenting for her. The land is known with the name pits of Tartarus. An abyss shaped from Chaos’ hits. Chaos pierced the ground with his punches, burned the soil with the magnitude of his kicks. He ruined all the life form. Leaving behind a dry, empty land with lava-filled rivers.”
“Couldn’t Chaos reverse the effect of the spell somehow?” I am not sure whether or not Athena’s storytelling has come to an end, but this time I want to interrupt her narration not caring for how she will react. Although I have come to the conclusion that questions do not bother her, and sudden pauses during her speech will not make her snap. After all, she is the goddess of wisdom! She will choose wisely what words to put in her response, how to react to the question asked, what emotions to express and what feelings to convey.
“Chaos was not able to break the spell while being casted nor he could find a way to undo it after. He intended to completely destroy the world, the universe with all its entities, he intended to annihilate everything and everyone. Nyx and Eros talked him out of that intent. They suggested him to search for a way to cancel the spell and bring back their mother. Chaos agreed with their suggestion remembering that Mera always wanted her family to be happy and of course alive even if she was not. Chaos devoted his life searching and trying to “revive” his wife. Before he went on, Chaos prompted Eros to create life as beautiful as his own mother. To bring day again in this world!” (mera means day in Greek, spelled μέρα)
It seems that each story involving godly beings ends up as a woeful story. I do not want to hear anymore saddening stories for now, so I am not going to ask Athena what Nyx and Eros did after that or how they felt for their mother’s “death” or should I call it something else. Though nothing comes to mind. I have yet to clearly understand what has happened to Mera, Erebus and Tartarus. Athena said the word dormant, that they fell asleep until they are awakened. I can deduce only one thing from that information. They are not dead. Also, they should be unconscious like they are sleeping, constantly.
“In what kind of state are Mera, Erebus and Tartarus?” I might do not want to hear anything sad, but my curiosity got the better of me. I really want to know what dormant means, what kind of sleep it is.
“This is an interesting question, and it is a mystery with its true nature unknown even to me. I do not know for sure the situation they are in. No one has ever come back from a dormant spell. Many divine beings have put to sleep, and despite their might and powers they could not change their tragic fate.”
“The dormant spell, is it some sort of sorcery? Is it different from an incantation?” I ask in an effort to gather more information about spells and incantations. I would like to clarify those things in my mind as soon as possible, since all those powers and magic are entirely new to me.
“Spells and incantations, they all belong to the art of wizardry. An art that primordial gods among the divine beings possess and handle. As such I have little and insufficient knowledge on the matter, but I do know that seemingly same chants can have different types of result depending on your level of expertise. Therefore, even if Tartarus’ spell was the same with that of Chaos it could still have different effects, and Chaos could not know how to counter it.”
Athena might be the goddess of wisdom, but her wisdom is not absolute. There are still things she does not know. Her wisdom must have to do more with perception instead of unlimited and ultimate knowledge. Athena has a good understanding of concepts she has barely ever heard of. She may do not know anything about a subject, but she is a quick thinker.
“That is exactly why Chaos was unable to cancel the spell even though he tried for so long and still tries after so many eons. The art of wizardry is complex, and you cannot master it easily. Hard work is certainly necessary, but to become an expert you need more than that. Even to this day there are no geniuses among those who control the art of wizardry.”
“Then if you succeed to learn how to use the art of wizardry above the average level you must be a terrifying creature.” I truly believe that. I am not saying that solely to make Athena continue and further explain.
“It is to some degree as you say but learning the art of wizardry is not an easy matter by any means. Even after you have learned it you must learn how to use and control it. Sometimes it is a demanding art taking its toll on you. Mera has warned her husband Chaos that using it extensively for evil doing will only lead him to lose his mind. It might seem out of her character, but Mera used to be adept at the art of wizardry. She was considered a master. That was only a few years before she met Chaos for the first time. Despite that she was always very careful not to demonstrate her skills without a solid reason. After they became husband and wife, she stopped using wizardry locking away the part of her memories containing her skills and knowledge of the wizardry art. Mera wanted to convince her husband to use wizardry only to protect her and their family. To a certain point she achieved what she wanted, but Chaos is chaos. He liked destruction and devastation, and could not have held back, at least not all the time.”
“I am not sure if that was the right move. Why did Mera lock away her wizardry memories?” Mera’s decision confuses me. They were calling her a master, so she must have been a great user of wizardry art. Then, why did not she put her mastery to good use? I do not see what could have been her motive.
“Mera must have realised something nobody else knew about the art of wizardry, and how dangerous it can be if not used correctly. That is why she rarely demonstrated her skills and powers. She did not want others to know that she was a master of wizardry. Not because she was afraid that someone might want to steal her title in a fight. But because she was afraid of others asking her to teach them that dangerous art. She did not want the art of wizardry to be spread and be known to many. The primordial gods might have been powerful, but once a spell is successful even a divine being cannot do much. That is art of wizardry. It might be difficult to learn, and impossible to master but everyone can learn it if they try. Therefore, everyone can become a menace, a threat to peaceful life. For that reason, Mera warned her husband Chaos at first, and then she locked away her own ability. She wanted him to use wizardry only to protect and save instead of causing anymore harm to this world. She wanted Chaos to stop bringing chaos. She wanted him to stop being evil of his own accord and choosing. She did not want to use her powers to change her beloved husband nor brawl with him to change his mind. The only thing left for her was to forget the art of wizardry since it has become useless to her and a possible threat to her loved ones.”
“I see now why Mera did that. But what happened to wizardry? You have only mentioned primordial gods using it. What about the other divine beings? What about you the gods and the titans?” If I recall correctly Athena said that only the primordial gods among the divine beings possess and handle the art of wizardry. The gods and titans have their own powers and abilities, still why do they not learn how to use wizardry which is such a powerful skill and can become a strong weapon against their enemies. Are they not allowed to use wizardry or are they forbidden from learning it? Do they need permission from the primordial gods?
“Your memory served you well this time Isocrates, but only on that matter since you forgot something else. You are also a god yourself. You must get used to your new role. From now on you must act considering yourself a god. Your human nature has changed. You will receive powers, godly powers. You must train and evolve them. You must educate yourself; you will learn how we gods do things, and you must get accustomed to our ways and manners.”
Athena has a stern look on her face. She wanted to make it clear to me that I am a god now, and I must act like it effective immediately. To be honest I do not feel like a god at all. All this is entirely new to me, and completely sudden. How am I supposed to behave like a god, when I do not know what a god does? To be fair as well Athena did not tell me that I messed up in terms of behavior. But in terms of thinking as I still consider myself a human, and she made sure to remind me.
“Uhm, I am sorry. I am a god, and I will behave like one. But what about wizardry? Can we not use it or can we not even learn it? Do the primordial gods not permit us gods and titans to study the art of wizardry?” I ask again, this time telling Athena some of my thoughts on the matter. Also, I emphasized we and gods to let her know that I understood my mistake and I am already putting the effort to fix it, so that it will not happen again.
“It is a good thing that you show eagerness to learn. As your guide I shall tutor you. Consider me your personal advisor in godly affairs. Do not hesitate to seek for me in times of need. Now then let us resume our history class.”
Athena directs the conversation where she likes. She could have avoided my question, but she honestly wants me to acquire information and knowledge of divine beings and their powers. I am also curious to know about their history, their past, and their abilities. In the end they might become my abilities too. And their past and history are the story of the world as I know it.
“We gods have no restrains to study and learn the art of wizardry. The difference between primordial gods and the other divine beings including us is that they possess the basics of wizardry since their creation. From the very first moment of their existence primordial gods can handle wizardry for they know the fundamentals. Learning to further use it and better control it is up to their training and will. It remains for their growth to manifest. On the other hand, for anyone else trying to learn and master the basics is hard and arduous. Most of the divine beings coming to existence after the primordial gods have specific powers given to them from birth. It is like a leftover of the old system. Instead of knowing the fundamentals of wizardry we were given certain abilities, hence we prefer to train and evolve becoming more skillful. We prefer to grow our given powers instead of learning new ones which are complicated and tough. For example, our father and king of the gods, Zeus, possesses the power of thunder. He can handle and manipulate lightning. That and his ability to transform into an eagle are powers given to him. After some hard work they become well-trained skills.”
Athena gives her answer, a clear explanation regarding the godly powers and the art of wizardry. Once more I understand that there are a lot of things for me to learn about divine beings, not only gods, and their powers. Precious information lies in their past. I must study the history of worlds having an open eye for useful things. They are no longer myths told to us. Historians are doing gods’ work writing in clay tablets and papyruses their documents, writing history. I must pay closer attention to those and historians notes. I should start reading as much as possible. I can also ask Athena when I need to. She can be of great aid with all her knowledge. I will become a great god!
“I believe that is enough for now. You heard stories of the past, you learned beneficial information, but we must move on as there are still many things waiting for you to see behind that door. Remember this door denotes the true gate to Olympus. This is the original door to our home. The gods’ residence is located behind that door. Your new house is there along with all of ours! From here starts the land of the gods. Άνοιξε!” (Άνοιξε means open in Greek)
Tavern, Athens, evening of the same day
After gathered in Agora to discuss about Zeus’s decision to make Isocrates a god, everyone is in tavern drinking. The meeting ended a little earlier because of Alexandra’s intervention. Athenagoras and Diomedes were quarreling about humans’ next action and how they should react to the situation in hand causing an argument regarding their true intentions on the matter of talk. Alexandra stopped them proposing to be the mediator between gods and humans for she is the person closer to Isocrates. She will inform him of their wishes and demands. She will let him know of the situation in Athens and she will ask him for the gods’ plans. She will be Isocrates’ assistant on the human side.
“It seems that the element of surprise is crucial when it comes to persuading a heated crowd.” Meletios says that while smiling to Alexandra.
“It is what it is. There is no strategy always victorious when it comes to debating. I simply had luck on my side.” Alexandra replies also with a smile.
“No matter what it was. We got to defeat that fool, Diomedes. He wanted the priests to retain their position as the bridge between gods and the human world. That way he would have been able to remain a useful tool for them, retaining his influence and authority, gaining more wealth and riches. No more! You rendered him useless this time Alexandra. There are no more services left for him to offer the priests. Γεια μας!” (Γεια μας means cheers in Greek) Athenagoras excitingly says while pouring himself another cup of wine. He then stretches out his hand holding the full cup.
“Be happy Athenagoras. Be happy for now. You have to remember that happiness is often temporary. You can celebrate your victory tonight, but tomorrow is another day.” Meletios tells him as he reaches for his drink.
“You never lose your calm, do you? Happiness will come for all of us, happiness will come for Athens. A new era for our great city begins. We shall be glorious again.” Athenagoras responds to Meletios’ cautious words.
“Now we must stay united, and we must act very carefully. The gods have given us an opportunity, and we must not let it go to waste. Diomedes is a cunning man, and the priests are not going to stay with their fingers crossed. We should take things easy, not making a fuss. The situation is in our favour so far and we must not hurry.” Alexandra says her opinion and brings her cup towards the other cups Athenagoras and Meletios are holding up around the height of their heads.
Everyone raises their cup and shouts “Cheers, to our new god Isocrates!”. Due to today’s event, there is abundance of wine for all the people in tavern to enjoy. Even Diomedes is there drinking and celebrating. He might be against Zeus’s decision, but he is a mere human and he knows that. He cannot object to gods’ decisions. Not that the gods would have listened to his objection if he was to oppose their will alone. He will not make any hasty moves. He will follow the priests’ orders. Diomedes is a sly man; he does not want damage inflicted to his reputation. Athenagoras might be his opponent, but pretty much anyone else will at least listen to what he has to say. Diomedes is well-known among the civilians, and he has notable connections. His influence in the city of Athens is not to be taken lightly as the prominent member he is.
“Oh, you have to fear of nothing and no one Alexandra. You are a devoted believer of all the gods, and I am positive that they have noticed your true faith in them. Diomedes might have his connections and good relationship with the priests. However, the gods should reward you for your loyalty and faith soon enough. I hope it will happen now that they chose Isocrates to be a god among them in Olympus. They will see you helping him and standing there beside him to support him showing your honest belief in one more god. Even if they ignore you after all that faith you are offering them, Isocrates will certainly mention you to the gods and look after you in some way.” Athenagoras says that with proud. He is proud of Alexandra to the point he thinks highly of her. He considers her achievements something to be proud of, the same way a father is proud of his kids doing great things.
“I am a servant of the gods Athenagoras, but I must not become arrogant and greedy. I have to keep on satisfying the gods without expecting their reward. I will move forward trying to do what I think is best for me. I will try to be of help to Isocrates and Athens.” Alexandra replies to Athenagoras while grabbing him from the neck and pulling him down closer to her.
“Alright we heard both of you. Though now is not the right time for talking. We should discuss things in Agora under the bright light of sun. The night with its pale moon is for us to celebrate and drink. Rest and let yourselves enjoy the gifts of the present.” Meletios declares that as he looks at Athenagoras and Alexandra to lighten up the mood again.
Athenagoras is a tall and muscular man, but Alexandra is also strong and her effort paid off. He lowered his head and upper body. It is like she wanted to bring his ear closer to her mouth, so that he can listen carefully to what she has to say. It is like she is directing her words especially to him. Or it could be the wine and the excessive drinking. This combination has provided a more loose atmosphere and attitudes. Today despite whatever disagreement, it was a big day and everyone is celebrating drinking until the wine ends.
Theogony, the world appearing in the title of the chapter, means the genealogy (or birth) of the gods. It is spelled Θεογονία in Greek.