mollyringle: (Default)
Something I've been pondering: when reading fantasy, how far do you like authors to veer from established traditions for a supernatural creature? If we're dealing with vampires, say, then they can't NOT drink blood. They aren't vampires unless they do. But can the author change other traditions and still make it work for you? It seems to have been voted a bad idea to decide they sparkle in sunlight instead of burning up, so apparently readers do have limits. :D

I'm not actually pondering vampires, though. For my own current idea-in-progress I'm thinking about faery lore. For example, how attached are people to the notion that iron repels fae? Is that a tradition readers like to see, or one they're tired of seeing? When it comes to faeries, what features are you tired of reading about, and what features must be included or else it isn't properly fae for you?

mollyringle: (Default)
We’re down to the final edits of The Goblins of Bellwater, and those proofing it have pointed out that I need to pick what the singular of “fae” is. I mostly have gone with “faery,” though slipped into “faerie” a time or two. Or hang on, should it just be “fairy”?

Well. Not a straightforward “check the dictionary, duh” kind of question, it turns out. Merriam-Webster and others simply list “faery” and “faerie” as “less common” or even “obsolete” variants of “fairy.”

The word comes from Old French “faerie” and “fae,” leading to Middle English “fairie” (oh look, another variant) which became Modern English “fairy.” So yes, in a sense, the modern version is spelled “fairy,” as the dictionary says. However. Connotations must be taken into account.

First problem I have with “fairy”: it makes people think of the Disney style of fairy. Glittery pink wings, giggling, sanitized, harmless, a cute party costume for five-year-olds. This isn’t the kind of fairy I’m writing about.
Second problem I have: “fairy” has become derogatory slang for a gay man, which is both distracting and a mean-spirited kind of attitude I want no part of.

As someone puts it on this language discussion forum, “fairy tales and the associated idea of fairies typically refer to the genre of folk stories printed by the Brothers Grimm, then sweetened and popularized for modern audiences by Disney et al. Faerie stories, on the other hand, are stories about the fae: otherworldly, unpredictable, and dangerous creatures who appear in the folk-tales and myths of England and Ireland. In origin, of course, the fairies and the fae are one and the same, but the connotations and usage of the words today are headed in opposite directions.”

I like the spelling “faerie,” even though it gets marked “archaic or poetic” by the dictionaries, and sometimes even “pseudoarchaic”—ooh, no one wants to be called that! Feeling the lexicography burn, Edmund Spenser? (With The Faerie Queene, from 1590, Spenser apparently used a deliberately archaic spelling.) But “faerie” also has the complication that it sometimes refers to fairyland, the realm of Faerie, rather than an individual being.

So: “faery,” then?
Much of my visual idea of the kind of fae I’m writing about comes from the brilliant, gorgeous artwork of Brian Froud—whose most influential volume on the subject is of course titled Faeries. In his own writing about them, he spells it “faery” for singular, so really, if Brian Froud calls them that, it’s good enough for me.

Exhibit A: page from Froud’s 
Good Faeries, Bad Faeries:

That said, Froud seems to prefer “the faeries” as the plural, whereas I’ve fallen into the habit of “the fae,” just because I like it. Plenty of others use “the fae” too, just not Froud so much.

Thus I’m going with “faery,” but in case anyone ever asks, yes, I know it’s an imperfect solution, and I know some people will call me pseudoarchaic. I’m feeling the burn. 
mollyringle: (Gutenberg)

This month Persephone's Orchard is a free download as an ebook (see Amazon, B&N, Kobo, and other sites too), and I've been contributing guest posts on my take on Greek mythology to many lovely book bloggers to help spread the word.

Since the posts are fun and brief and a nice diversion from the news, here's a roundup of them for anyone interested:

10 Things I Like About Persephone. E.g., "She has an interesting marriage story..."

10 Things I Like About Hades. For one: "He does not have blue flames for hair. No one except Disney has ever said so, and they are making things up."

"No one ever knows about all my cats": The Inscrutable Divine Trickster Hermes. "Yes, he’ll screw you over sometimes and drive you crazy. But he’ll also surprise you with unexpected gifts."

It's always the right time to immerse ourselves in good books, and it can be especially therapeutic in stressful eras. Hope you are all finding time to read something excellent!

mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)

Today I'm excited to welcome back author Kaitlin Bevis, who, like me, loves writing Greek-mythology-based stories. And she has a new book coming out soon! Love and War, the latest in her Daughters of Zeus series, will be released on Oct. 21, and you can preorder it now. Read all about it here, and check out an excerpt too, and dang is that a gorgeous cover or what?


After narrowly escaping with her life, Aphrodite wakes up to find herself at the demigods’ base camp—a gorgeous tropical island. Powerless and injured, she has no choice but to glamour herself as a demigoddess in order to find out what’s really going on. Lucky for her, she’s not alone. Ares is with her, also in disguise. But she soon realizes she might be more of a liability than an asset when her panic attacks and nightmares threaten to expose them both.

Ares is as anxious as anyone to shut down the demigods’ plot. But right now, all he can think about is Aphrodite. He almost killed her, for Gods’ sake! And though the timing couldn’t be any worse, he’s falling hard and fast. He’ll do anything to protect her . . . even if it means sacrificing himself.

Still, they find allies in the most unexpected places . . .

More goddess than demigoddess, Medea is married to the rebel leader, Jason. But there’s something odd going on. Jason is acting very strange, and Medea finds herself drawn to a new demigoddess who mysteriously arrived on the island half-dead. She senses there’s more to this visitor than meets the eye. Little does she guess . . .

War is coming, there’s no doubt. But, in her weakened state, does Aphrodite have any hope of surviving it?

Read an excerpt here!

Read more... )


Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

mollyringle: (Beneath My Skin)

In her books about happiness and habits, writer Gretchen Rubin delineates what she calls the Four Tendencies. They are, in short:

Upholders: respond readily to both outer and inner expectations (that is, expectations from others and from themselves)
Questioners: meet inner expectations, but question outer expectations; they’ll meet an expectation if they think it makes sense
Obligers: meet outer expectations, but struggle to meet expectations they impose on themselves
Rebels: resist all expectations, outer and inner alike

You can take the quiz here to find out your own tendency. (I’m a Questioner. My thought when that answer came up: “Hmm, I don’t know, I really thought I was an Upholder. I question the...oh.”)
More here on the tendencies if you’re curious.

But for now, I thought it’d be fun to examine where the characters in my Greek myth trilogy fell on this framework (The Chrysomelia Stories, starting with Persephone's Orchard). So here goes!

The heroes

Hades and Persephone: both Questioners. In ancient days, Hades resists conforming to the lifestyle of his fellow immortals, and instead finds his way into the Underworld and takes up residence there, asking questions all the while. Persephone, similarly, resists her mother’s expectations about what her marriage and life should look like, and follows her curiosity toward a life with Hades instead. In the modern day, their reincarnated selves behave much the same.

Aphrodite: Obliger. Sure, she’s quite the independent and strong woman, but she does basically please others (and teach them to please themselves) as the point of her existence. However, she does also seek to please herself a good deal too, so…I wonder if Aphrodite is actually a rather unconventional Upholder?

Dionysos: Rebel. The very god of rebels! In my version, mind you, he starts out more as an Obliger, living only to please his lover. But in being saved from death and becoming reborn, he strikes out on his own and decides to devote his life to bringing revelry and unrestrained pleasure to the masses, and enjoy some casual worship along the way. Tabitha, in the modern day, shows her Rebel personality too, by only going to class or showing up for people if and when she feels like it, but she does love her friends and will travel the world to see them or lay down her life to save them, simply because she wants to.

Hekate: Upholder. She has her insecurities and sometimes feels out of place, what with her peculiar gifts and upbringing, but the woman can do well-nigh anything. And you can rely on her 100% if she says she’s got your back. Same goes for Zoe, in the modern world.

Hermes: Questioner. He’s charismatic and engaging, but holds his cards close to the vest, always; you’ll never know the extent of the divine trickster’s clever thoughts. He has complex plans and he’ll see them through, but can you rely on him to do as expected or asked? Absolutely not. Not in this lifetime or any other.

Poseidon: Obliger. He uses his water magic to protect his loved ones, even when he has to keep his powers a secret, and even when it means being lonely. But he does show some of what Gretchen Rubin calls Obliger Rebellion, in breaking the rules to rescue Amphitrite from her life of near-slavery. But even that is done to make HER life happier (as well as his own).

The villains (leaders of the cult Thanatos)

Quentin: Upholder.
She’s got nerves of steel, never lets emotion or setbacks get in the way, and sticks to her plans and her mission all the way to the end.

Landon: Obliger. He’s not really cut out for this villain job, honestly, but he wants to do his teammates proud, and now he’s in it too deep to get out easily, so he’s going to try to see this through, to impress them. He really is.

Tracy: Questioner. This evil cult needs a shake-up, if you ask him, and he’s got some new ideas he’s going to try. And he really doesn’t care if you don’t like them. He believes in them and he’s going to do them anyway.

Try the Four Tendencies on your own favorite characters!

mollyringle: (moon over ocean)

I'm happy to be able to liven up this Monday by bringing back Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series! We've been talking about our Greek myth series and the different ways we've handled the characters of the gods, so here she is on this week's topic. Welcome, Kaitlin! Take it away...


Last time I was a guest on this blog, I touched on the surprising similarities between the characters in my Daughters of Zeus series and Molly Ringle’s Chrysomelia Stories Series. Today, I’d like to talk about two characters who couldn’t be more different.

Poseidon and Ares.

Now, there were no saints in the Greek Pantheon. To create a sympathetic character for a retelling there are some major things that the writer either needs to reframe or just ignore. The characters of Poseidon and Ares in both of our books are great demonstrations of that in action on both sides of the concept.

Take Poseidon for instance. In Mythology Poseidon could be benevolent to his followers. His myths inspired the kind, thoughtful, fun god we see in Molly’s series (adorably portrayed by Liam, who funnily enough, reminds me of my Triton), Rick Riordan’s series, and more.

Myths also portray him a violent rapist with control issues and a mercurial temper. Which is more reflective of my Poseidon.

In both my story and Molly’s, there’s something deeper beneath the surface. Both of our Poseidon’s are driven by complex motivations and strong beliefs. We just let them drive our characters in different directions.

Ares is an example where I looked the other way. In mythology, Ares was rash and violent. He had a reputation for being blood thirsty. In Roman Mythology a rape committed by him set the entire empire into motion.

But my Ares is very much a sympathetic love interest. The second generation gods in my books are almost always their own foils. Persephone is basically the goddess of spring and rebirth and she’s terrified of change, Aphrodite’s the goddess of Love and wouldn’t know a healthy relationship if it fell into her lap, and Ares, poor misunderstood Ares is a god of war who hates conflict. I figured if he was “Zeus’s most hated son,” then it was probably because he was as far from him in characterization as possible.

Zeus is a character Molly and I are very much in agreement with being an ass.

Sometimes people get very frustrated when a god they’ve heard a million terrible things about is portrayed in a kind light. (Don’t believe me, look up reviews for Disney’s Hercules). But in every Greek retelling, the author has had to reframe someone as a sympathetic and likable character. The original Greek Gods were monsters. Every one. They were wonderfully complex monsters that had moments of shining humanity and kindness, but those moments are easily overshadowed with only a minute’s research. But, like time, these characters have evolved. As a society we have evolved and changed. We don’t admire the same things we used to. We look down upon things we used to think were just fine. As we evolve, so should our heroes.

* * *

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Visit Kaitlin at her website, and browse all her books at Goodreads. Ask for them anywhere your favorite books are sold!

mollyringle: (fruit)
My mom called me the other day to tell me about this Underworld-ish place she suddenly remembered: the Forestiere Underground Gardens in Fresno, California.

A Sicilian immigrant almost a century ago hand-carved rooms and passageways in the hardpan beneath the thin farmland soil, and used it as a living space, a cool refuge from the hot California summer sun. Down there he also planted several fruit trees that could receive sunlight through skylight-type openings above. Fruit trees underground, people! It's my Underworld! It's even designed after the ancient Roman catacombs, so, properly Mediterranean.

Amusing addendum: my mom lived in Fresno in her teen years, and found out about this place when she was out with some friends one night. The guys said to the girls, "We're going to show you this cool place, but you have to tell NO ONE." At the time, the Underground Gardens were just fenced-off territory with "no trespassing" signs around it, so they had to sneak in with flashlights. Apparently most people in the city had no idea it was out there; you can't see much from ground level.

So my mom was late getting home after exploring the place, and her parents demanded to know where she'd been and why she hadn't called. (This was the 1950s, well before cell phones.) She finally broke down and told them about it, begging them not to get anyone in trouble. Her dad (my grandfather) declared, "Daughter, I sell real estate insurance. I know every square foot of this area, and I know there is no such place. Where were you REALLY?"

And that forever remained his final word on it. He never believed her. (He died more than 20 years ago.) But now you can tour the gardens, which really do exist! :)
mollyringle: (Kimberley)
Following up on Kaitlin Bevis' post, here's the guest post I wrote on Adonis for her blog! Come have a read.

And since I just finished reading Aphrodite, her latest, here is a roundup of my reviews of Kaitlin's Daughters of Zeus series:

Book 1: Persephone

Persephone is a fun, imaginative, smart retelling of my favorite myth, fusing modern culture with a rich world of magic. I had such a great time reading this. I ate it up in just a few days. With its irreverent sense of humor and its intelligent references, it reminds me most of Joss Whedon, in particular the livelier, funnier seasons of "Buffy" or "Angel."
Read my whole review here

Book 2: Daughter of the Earth and Sky

A satisfying continuation of this series, and I remain fully infatuated with Hades, who is so adorable here (but in a dark and rather dangerous kind of way, of course). The magic/gods system in this one includes globally big powers and equally big problems, so young Persephone has her hands full, especially since she's tangled up in one of those really nasty "under a spell where I can't talk about being under a spell" kind of spells. Plus the genuinely scary Reapers are torturing her for fun. And it doesn't help that Aphrodite has shown up and is sometimes talking her into some questionable activities...
Read my whole review here

Book 3: The Iron Queen

The adventure continues, and it's big stuff! The Greek deities, often at odds with each other, now have to band together for the task of taking on Zeus, who's holding Persephone captive in a bid to acquire the power of the Underworld. Zeus, whom you might know as some heroic leader of gods from other sources (*cough*DisneyHercules*cough*), is in this series more like his actual self from mythology, which is to say, a dangerous, selfish, devious sociopath.
Read my whole review here

Book 4: Aphrodite
It’d be easy to dislike the “Barbie Goddess,” as one character calls her—she’s physically perfect, she’s occasionally clueless, she may often come off as shallow and self-serving...she’s, well, Aphrodite. But I thought Kaitlin Bevis did a marvelous job with the character, showing us her suffering and fears, all of which are inseparable from her recent origin as a creation of Zeus’, made specifically to do his bidding. Now Zeus is gone, but Aphrodite’s left with the nightmares. She’s unbalanced, and unsure what to do with her freedom.

To get the other gods to trust and like her a little better, which they haven’t entirely so far, she volunteers to help solve the latest divine mystery: namely, why some demigods have been disappearing. The mission takes her onto a cruise ship, where she winds up sharing a room with the demigod Adonis, and as you can guess, there the fun begins!
Read my whole review here
mollyringle: (Kimberley)

This weekend I'm pleased to run a guest post from author Kaitlin Bevis! (We writers of Persephone/Hades love-story retellings have to stick together, you know.) She's got a new book out in her Daughters of Zeus series: Aphrodite.

And by the way, wow, do I love that cover art. Gorgeous.

So without further ado, here is Kaitlin, on the delectable topic of Adonis.


Hi there!
I'm Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series. My most recent book, Aphrodite, featured many characters you'd be familiar with from Molly's Chrysomelia Stories. One of which was Adonis.

Adonis is a fascinating character in Greek Mythology. So it's not surprising that both Molly Ringle and I feature Adonis heavily in our Greek Mythology retellings.

What surprised me were the similarities.

The original* Adonis myth goes something like this:

Adonis was inbred to the extreme. His line starts with Galatia (as in Pygmalion's statue) and continues to his mother Myrrha, who managed to piss Aphrodite off by not worshiping her enough. Aphrodite cursed Myrrha by giving Myrrha the hots for her father. Myrrha tricked her father and seduced him with the help of her nanny (seriously, don't ask for details).

Her dad freaked out, and tried to have her killed, but Myrrha fled and was turned into a Myrrh tree by some sympathetic gods. Why the gods were so convinced life as a tree was preferable to death is a mystery for another day. Anyway, nine months later, Adonis popped up beneath the tree either by way of an arrow, boar's tusks, or tree labor with helpful nymphs. Aphrodite immediately fell for the infant, possibly thanks to Cupid.

She handed Adonis off to Persephone for safekeeping, but Persephone ended up falling in love with him too. The women went to Zeus so he could settle the dispute, and Zeus declared that Adonis spend four months wherever he want, four months with Aphrodite, and four months with Persephone every year.

Most myths agree that Adonis spent eight months with Aphrodite, but some (mostly Shakespeare) contend that he was ambivalent to her attentions, preferring the joy of hunting and killing things to the company of the goddess who got his mother turned into a tree.

One day, while hunting, he was gutted by a wild boar that was possibly sent by Ares out of jealousy, or by Artemis for revenge for Aphrodite getting one of her worshipers killed, or by Apollo for sheer randomness. Aphrodite cradled Adonis in her lap as he died and flowers (anemone to be precise) sprang up where his body rested. His blood is also believed to turn the Adonis River red every year.

The people who lived in the region of the Adonis River celebrated Adonis as a Dying and Rising God. They held a yearly funeral for Adonis when the river ran red and mourned, then the next day they celebrated his return to life and ascension to the heavens.

There were bits and pieces of the classic Adonis myth in both retellings, and we both took extensive liberties with the story. Naturally there were many differences and reversals between our Adonis's. My Aphrodite pined for an uninterested Adonis a la Shakespeare, Molly's Adonis pined for Aphrodite. My Adonis is always pushing those around him to the moral high ground. He has really strong views on what's right and fair, and, yeah, he’s a bit of a stick in the mud. Molly’s is the original party animal. But despite these major differences, their core personalities seemed really similar. Which is insane if you read the myths. Greek mythology didn’t give us a lot to work with when it came to characterizing Adonis. He is very much the object of his myths, not a person.

Another crazy similarity is that we both came back to Adonis being restored after his death and took it one step further. My Adonis (major spoiler warning) comes back as Eros (Aphrodite is the one who turned him from demigod to god in my book, so it made sense to me to make him her “son”), and Molly’s as Dionysus.

Now, our books were being written at the same time, so there’s no chance we influenced each other. Kind of makes you wonder about the nature of inspiration. Where do these stories come from?

Did you read both books? What were your thoughts on the two Adonis’s?

* Calling any particular myth original is problematic. Greek myths featured heavily in oral retellings and the stories evolved and changed over space and time. There are many contradictory details as the myths worked their way through the world. If you see a detail that conflicts with your recollection of the myth, it is likely you were exposed to a slightly different version.

* * *

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. Because she's always wanted to be a writer, she spent high school and college learning everything she could to achieve that goal. After graduating college with a BFA and Masters in English, Kaitlin went on to write The Daughters of Zeus series.

Visit Kaitlin at her website, and browse all her books at Goodreads. Ask for them anywhere your favorite books are sold!

mollyringle: (fruit)

“I got good marks in social science, bad marks in maths, my favorite color is green, and are you falling asleep with boredom yet?” - Adrian, Persephone's Orchard

I bet exactly no one has ever noticed this, but I have this color thing going on with the Hades and Persephone characters. I represent Hades with purple, because it's a dusk-sky color but also a royal/wealth color, and apparently was an expensive dye back in the day. Then I represent Persephone with green, because, well, that's a no-brainer in a spring goddess.

But I mixed and matched those to complement each other. So in the old days, Hades wears a dark purple cloak as befits his wealthy station, but Persephone chooses an amethyst (purple) from the Underworld gems to wear as a necklace, and violets are her favorite flower, and Hades wears a green rope belt. And in modern times, Sophie likes purple, the Hades color (I mention her cell phone case being purple, and so is her favorite sweater); and Adrian likes green, the Persephone color (he wears it sometimes, along with of course black).

Also I just like how green and purple look together. See also: Dionysos, purple grapes and green grapevines.

mollyringle: (perfume ad)
In fragrance-loving forums, a common game is to post a photo of someone--perhaps a celebrity, perhaps a selfie or friend of a forum member--and ask everyone to scent them; that is, choose a perfume for them based on what they look like.

Now, very few people are going to care about this, but for my own entertainment, I'm going to do this with the main characters of my Greek mythology series (Persephone's Orchard and its sequels). Even if you haven't read it, you likely know the gods from other sources. (There's this writer named Homer, and this other one named Riordan, and...anyway.) Mind you, in ancient times, none of these perfumes were available and people would actually have been wearing scents made from herbs and spices and the like. Apparently the Minoans used ingredients like mint, coriander, and fennel for the purpose, for example. But we'll ignore anachronism and use modern scents anyway.

Caveat: I can of course only assign scents that I have personally smelled. So that limits things. But feel free to suggest others if you have ideas.

I'll stick to the Greek god names and not use the characters' reincarnated names, just to avoid spoilers and confusion. So:

Hades: Black by Comme des Garçons. A clever idea for perfume, and one that makes me think "god of the Underworld": they based it on things black in color--tar, pepper, incense, smoke, licorice, etc. At first I found it strange, but the spice mix grew on me to the degree that I came around to finding this scent comforting and sexy. And definitely dark and masculine.

Persephone: A few possibilities come to mind. One is Melograno Selvatico by I Profumi di Firenze, because its name translates to "woody pomegranate," though to my nose it's mostly a clean fruity-floral that isn't particularly pomegranate-ish. Another is Féminité du Bois by Serge Lutens, a lovely natural feminine skin scent with the suggestion of forest, fruits, and flowers behind it. And another is L'Ombre dans L'Eau by Diptyque: a simple but melancholy rose and blackcurrant--because gardens and a "shadow in the water" do sound rather kidnapping-myth, right?

Hermes: Conveniently, there is a perfume house called Hermès already, so naturally I think of their scents for our dear trickster. There are lots to choose from, but the ones I like best (for him and for me) are the urbane and super-sexy Bel Ami, or the somewhat more rugged Rocabar.

Hekate: Got to go with beautiful mysterious incense on this one. There are lots of awesome incense scents, but the one that makes me think of Hekate is L'Artisan's Passage d'Enfer. It has the cool dank stone of a cathedral (or an Underworld), a lightweight frankincense, and a contemplative and elusive quality throughout.

Dionysos: Ideally something wine-scented, of course. But that actually isn't easy to find in the perfume world, or at least I'm coming up mostly blank on it. So I'll look instead at Dionysos' rock-star-party-god aspect and scent him in the naughty-sweaty Eau d'Hermès. As someone on one of those fragrance forums said, it's suggestive of Jim Morrison's leather pants, so that's pretty Dionysian.

Aphrodite: Ah, now this is difficult. My instinct says she's got a huge perfume collection, so she can smell enticing in a thousand different ways. In my books I do say at one point that her reincarnated self smells of a smoky vanilla perfume, and one that fits the bill for that is Smell Bent's Incensed. But yeah. I think, you name a sexy scent, she can smell like it.

Poseidon and Amphitrite: Oltre by Laura Tonatto. This perfume smells like ocean in a very real-life and non-perfume kind of way: salt on chilly stones, seaweed, kelp, wind-torn scrubby pines on the shore, the whole deal. It may actually give the impression of too cold an ocean, more like our Washington state beaches than the Mediterranean, but until I visit the Mediterranean and smell it firsthand, this idea will have to stand in.

That will do for now. And, of course, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab has perfumes for all kinds of deities, including several of the above. I just haven't tried them yet. 
mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)
Today for a guest post I'm excited to welcome Kaitlin Bevis, author of the Daughters of Zeus series! She has explored the Persephone myth (among others) in her books, and explains its origins and her adaptation of it here.

* * *

Guest author Kaitlin Bevis:

Myths were passed on and adapted through oral retellings through multiple cultures, and retold by a variety of authors. Homer, Ovid, Virgil and many other classical writers each put their own spin on the myths to suite their stories, just as I altered the myths to fit the plot of Persephone. I pulled from a variety of sources, combining the elements of multiple versions, so please be aware that the myths you read below are by no means the "official" or definitive versions of the myth. If you hear or read an alternate version somewhere else it is not wrong or inaccurate. It is simply a different telling.

The rape of Persephone:

Kore, the goddess of Spring, was a beautiful goddess and would have had many suiters had her mother, Demeter, goddess of agriculture, not kept her hidden away from the other gods. One day Kore went to a meadow to pick narcissus flowers, lilacs, poppies, or some other flower depending on the source with some nymphs when Hades, God of the Underworld spots her and decides he wants her for his wife. He bursts through the earth (in some versions, Gaia, goddess of Earth assists him) in his creepy black chariot of death, and drags Kore into the Underworld. After her rape/marriage, Kore becomes known as Persephone, the Queen of the Underworld.

Demeter, goddess of Agriculture and Persephone's mother, searches frantically for her daughter, neglecting her duties as a goddess and plunging the earth into famine. Helios, god of the sun, or in some versions Persephone's nymph friends, tell Demeter what happened and she begs Zeus to rescue her daughter.

At first Zeus tells Demeter she should be pleased to have such a high ranking son in law, but eventually relents since too many people are starving to worship him properly, and sends Hermes to liberate Persephone so long as she has not consumed food or drink in he Underworld.

Meanwhile, Persephone is tricked into eating 3-7(depending on the version) pomegranate seeds by the god Ascalapus, Hades' gardener. He is turned into a screech owl in retribution for his crime, and Persephone is forced to return to the Underworld for a month every year for each seed she ate. While she is home with her mother, plants grow, but during her time in the Underworld every year they die. This myth is considered an explanation for winter.

Why did her name change?

Changing a god's name to reflect a change in their divine role was not uncommon. In Persephone's case she doesn't even get a name until she's important. Kore translated to girl, or maiden. Persephone has a variety of other names and titles within her cult the Eleusinian Mysteries.

Why a pomegranate?

The pomegranate is known as the fruit of the dead as well as a symbol for fertility, and thanks to the little crown on the top a pomegranate is a symbol of royalty. So it's easy to see why it was chosen as symbol in the Persephone myth. You've got royalty for the new Queen of Spring/fertility of the dead. When you cut it open it is naturally divided into three to six sections depending on the fruit. It is full of tiny little seeds covered in a blood red juice.

While the Persephone myth is the most well known example of using a Pomegranate for symbolism, way back when, this weird little fruit found its way into a variety of stories across cultures.

Why does it matter what flower Persephone was picking?

The flower chosen in the myth kind of sets the tone for the whole story. The narcissus flower for instance is commonly seen as a phallic symbol, and a symbol of unrequited love, and as a portent for death, so you've got some foreshadowing, and loss of innocence going there. Other flowers symbolize different things that the story teller may be trying to get across.

Why did I change it?

In my version of the story Hades was actually rescuing Persephone. The idea that Hades may not have been the bad guy has been toyed with in popular culture throughout my entire life (Beauty and the Beast anyone?) so it's logical, and certainly not original, to consider that Hades may have just been misunderstood.
That myth has never really vanished or fallen out of fashion. It resonates with us for some reason. If you studied any mythology at all in school, you learned the Persephone myth. I think part of it is if you take the myth at face value, it's unspeakable, so we want to fix this poor girl's fate. But another part of it is that it seems incomplete. In most myths you get a bit of characterization. Zeus's personality and wants and needs come across crystal clear in every single myth he's a part of. Hades and Persephone both are ambiguous in this myth. Instead we learn a lot about Demeter, and her devotion as a mother. I wanted to know what happened down there. So I wrote my own version.

* * *

...And you can read Kaitlin's version, Persephone and its two sequels (Daughter of the Earth and Sky and The Iron Queen) to find out more!

I just finished the first installment, and thought it a delightful, smart, Joss-Whedon-esque* journey through the myth. You can read my full review here.

*Like early Buffy, not late Buffy; don't worry.

Kaitlin Bevis spent her childhood curled up with a book, and a pen. If the ending didn't agree with her, she rewrote it. She's always wanted to be a writer, and spent high school and college learning everything she could so that one day she could achieve that goal. She graduated college with my BFA in English with a concentration in Creative Writing, and is pursuing her masters at the University of Georgia.

Connect with Kaitlin at:

Her webpage
mollyringle: (Froud - bad faeries)
One of the nerdy mythology books I have around is this one:

And one of its appendices includes translations of various writing found on bits of papyrus from ancient Greek times. The magical spells in particular interested me (these are part of the Greek Magical Papyri, if you're curious), because they are exactly as bizarre and specific as anything Willow ever whipped up on a Buffy episode, or any Herbology or Potions extra credit Hermione ever undertook. For example, check out the instructions for preparing the Spell To Make Aphrodite Attract One's Lover:

* * *

Offering to the star of Aphrodite: A white dove's blood and fat, untreated myrrh, and parched wormwood. Make this up together as pills and offer them to the star on pieces of vine wood or on coals. And also have the brains of a vulture for the compulsion, so that you may make the offering. And also have as a protective charm a tooth from the upper right jawbone of a female ass or of a tawny sacrificial heifer, tied to your left arm with Anubian thread.

* * *

Even in the age of Ebay, a person would be hard pressed to collect all that stuff. I, for one, am all out of Anubian thread and have no idea where to get more. Do you think dental floss would work?

But that spell is less scary than the All-Purpose Magical Prayer to Selene (who is identified with Hecate here). In that one, you're supposed to carve a three-faced Hecate on a lodestone, then dip it "in the blood of one who has died a violent death." Yikes. Is that just a polite way of saying "sacrifice someone for this spell"? Or are you expected to find a recently-violently-dead person lying around by chance?

"Honey? Do we know anyone who died a violent death today? I need it for a spell."
"Let me check the pantry. Nothing here...oh wait! I found one by the back door. That was lucky."
mollyringle: (Hughes - Night)

It's release day for Persephone's Orchard--hurray! Pick up your copy soon. The ebook will be $0.99, but only for the first two weeks. See: Kobo, Amazon, or Barnes and Noble for a few e-options. I like IndieBound for paperback so you can have it ordered through a local bookstore.

As for the story, I wrote it because, long ago, I had the same question a lot of people have: Did Persephone love Hades?

Several enquiring minds want to know, to judge from the first suggestion on Google's autofill. They've also asked it on Yahoo Answers and Wiki Answers and other forums. I've pondered it ever since reading about Hades' abduction of Persephone in my copy of D'Aulaires' Book of Greek Myths as a kid.

After all, it isn't your usual kidnapping. Ancient accounts of mythology vary on the details of pretty much everything, but they seem to agree, more or less, that Hades sees Persephone, falls in insta-love with her (an arrow from Eros might have something to do with it), lures her in with some pretty flowers, and pulls her down screaming into the Underworld.

But once he has her there, he doesn't act like your ordinary kidnapper and lock her in a closet and abuse her--at least, not as far as we're told. Rather, he marries her, at least in a common law way. He sets her up as his queen, very nearly his equal in power. When Persephone's whereabouts are discovered, and Hermes comes to bring her back above ground, Hades tells her: "Go now, Persephone, to your dark-robed mother, go, and feel kindly in your heart towards me: be not so exceedingly cast down; for I shall be no unfitting husband for you among the deathless gods, that am own brother to father Zeus. And while you are here, you shall rule all that lives and moves and shall have the greatest rights among the deathless gods: those who defraud you and do not appease your power with offerings, reverently performing rites and paying fit gifts, shall be punished for evermore."

Not what your typical kidnapper says, right? That's from the Homeric Hymn to Demeter, which at roughly the 7th century BC is one of the earliest sources we have. Clearly Hades' insta-love hasn't diminished during the months he's kept her there--and it would seem he remains much more faithful to her throughout history than nearly any other god does for his wife (yeah, I'm looking at you, Zeus). But whether Persephone has begun to feel any Stockholm Syndrome at that early stage, we can't be sure.

We do know that before she leaves, Hades sneakily feeds her a few pomegranate seeds, knowing the food of the Underworld will oblige her to return there. (Again, that's how the Homeric Hymn has it. Other sources say she eats the fruit of her own accord, though perhaps absentmindedly.)

Though Persephone returns gladly to her mother Demeter, she does honor her pomegranate pact and return every year to her husband Hades. That's when Demeter lets the Earth go cold and barren: it explains winter, see? Neat. But the seasonal issue, though rather major in the whole myth, is a sidenote to our love question.

It's clear from other myths that by the time Orpheus, Theseus, Herakles (Hercules), and other heroes brave their adventurous descents (while still alive) to the Underworld, Persephone is the realm's powerful queen, able to bestow or deny momentous supernatural favors. She gained serious authority through that kidnapping, and at the very least she learned to accept and use her new role. She gained worshippers, too: Persephone's descent to the Underworld and acquisition of afterlife-related knowledge is a central part of the Eleusinian Mysteries, an actual religious cult that practiced in Greece for centuries.

So couldn't she have learned to love her husband, too?

Plenty of us have thought it possible, and even likely. This list of books about Hades and Persephone shows how the question has fascinated several of us enough to write whole novels about it. Some go as dark and disturbing as you might expect, exploring all those Stockholm-Syndrome possibilities. Others, like mine, rewrite the relationship to eliminate most of the non-consensual portions but still retain the obstacles of dating or marrying a man whose job requires him to live in the Underworld.

For, if you look at it through the lens of modern book genres, the love story of Persephone and Hades is one of the first paranormal romances of Western civilization. The immortal who owns the Underworld and can show you around it anytime: now there's a figure who's dark and intriguing, and, yes, romantic. At least, I'm strange enough to think so. And so, perhaps, do all those other people asking Google the same question.


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