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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: gods, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 9 of 9
1. Gods and mythological creatures of the Odyssey in art

The gods and various mythological creatures — from minor gods to nymphs to monsters — play an integral role in Odysseus’s adventures. They may act as puppeteers, guiding or diverting Odysseus’s course; they may act as anchors, keeping Odysseus from journeying home; or they may act as obstacles, such as Cyclops, Scylla and Charbidis, or the Sirens. While Gods like Athena are generally looking out for Odysseus’s best interests, Aeolus, Poseidon, and Helios beg Zeus to punish Odysseus, but because his fate is to return home to Ithaca, many of the Gods simply make his journey more difficult. Below if a brief slideshow of images from Barry B. Powell’s new free verse translation of Homer’s The Odyssey depicting the god and other mythology.

Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His new free verse translation of The Odyssey was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His translation of The Iliad was published by Oxford University Press in 2013. See previous blog posts from Barry B. Powell.

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The post Gods and mythological creatures of the Odyssey in art appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Gods and men in The Iliad and The Odyssey

The Ancient Greek gods are all the things that humans are — full of emotions, constantly making mistakes — with the exception of their immortality. It makes their lives and actions often comical or superficial — a sharp contrast to the humans that are often at their mercy. The gods can show their favor, or displeasure; men and women are puppets in their world. Barry B. Powell, author of a new free verse translation of Homer’s The Odyssey, examines the gods, fate, divine interventions, and what it means in the classic epic poem.

Fate and free in The Iliad and The Odyssey

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What role do the Gods play in The Iliad and The Odyssey?

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Who is Hercules and how does he play a role in The Odyssey?

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Greek Gods versus modern omnibenevolent God

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Barry B. Powell is Halls-Bascom Professor of Classics Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. His new free verse translation of The Odyssey was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. His translation of The Iliad was published by Oxford University Press in 2013.

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The post Gods and men in The Iliad and The Odyssey appeared first on OUPblog.

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3. A drinking bout in several parts (Part 3: Mead)

By Anatoly Liberman

Tales that explain the origin of things are called etiological.  All etymologies are etiological tales by definition.  It seems that one of the main features of Homo sapiens has always been his unquenchable desire to get drunk.  Sapiens indeed!  The most ancient intoxicating drink of the Indo-Europeans was mead.  Moreover, it seems that several neighboring tribes borrowed the name of this drink from them (and undoubtedly the drink itself:  otherwise, what would have been the point of taking over the word?), for we have Finnish mesi, Proto-Chinese mit, and Japanese mitsu, allegedly modifications of Indo-European medu- or medhu-.  Being inebriated allowed one to converse with the gods; intoxication and inspiration were synonyms from early on.  We now have a different view of alcoholism and have reduced the sublime state to the dull legal formula “under the influence.”  But things were different in the spring of civilization.  One of the most memorable myths of the medieval Scandinavians is about a deadly fight for the mead of wisdom and poetry.

After a truce was made between two warring clans of gods (the cause of the war has not been discovered), they met to make peace, took a crock, and spat into it.  Saliva causes fermentation and has been used widely in old days for processes like the one being described here.  From the contents of the crock the gods created a homunculus called Kvasir, who turned out to be sober (!) and extremely wise: there was no question he could not answer.  He traveled far and wide and taught men wisdom.  The name Kvasir happens to be an almost full homonym of Slavic kvas (usually spelled, for no legitimate reason, kvass in English), a malt-based drink, one of whose indispensable ingredients is bread.  However, despite what some books state in a rather dogmatic way, the coincidence between Kvasir and kvas may be fortuitous.  Although not directly, kvas is related to Slavic words for “sour.”  Closer cognates mean “froth” and “cook; boil”; one of them is Latin caseus, the etymon of Engl. cheese.  In Germanic, Kvasir resembles verbs like Engl. quash and squash.  Both are usually traced to Old French, but similar-sounding and partly synonymous verbs, for instance, English squeeze and quench, are native, while Modern German quetschen, corresponding to Engl. quash, is a word of disputable etymology (perhaps native, perhaps from French).  Whatever product the gods obtained through fermentation, its base was first “crushed” or “squashed.”  Kvasir appears unexpectedly in a later myth connected with the capture of Loki; however, his life must have been short, because two dwarfs killed him.

In the world of Scandinavian myths we encounter gods, dwarfs, and giants.  Despite the associations these words carry to us, “an average giant” did not tower over “an average god,” whereas the dwarfs were not tiny.  Giants and dwarfs became huge and small in later folklore.  In Scandinavian myths, they were distinguished by their functions: the gods maintained order in the universe, the giants tried to disrupt it, and the dwarfs were artisans and produced all the valuable objects that allowed the gods to stay in power.  Most unfortunately, the myths of the Germans and the Anglo-Saxons have not come down to us, and only some traces of them can be reconstructed from popular beliefs, the evidence of place names, and the like.  But to continue with Kvasir.  Two malicious dwarfs called him aside for a word in private and killed him, after which they let his blood run into two vats and a kettle.  They mixed the blood with honey, the main sweetener then known, and it became the mead that

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4. The gods are on Twitter

Tweet By Mark Peters I’ve been seeing gods everywhere lately. Not gods like Thor, Ganesha, and God. My cinnamon rolls have been deity-free, if not gluten-free. It’s lexical gods I can’t seem to escape. Everywhere I look someone is thanking, cursing, or begging some specific group of supreme beings. For example, I’ve recently spotted the following religious invocations: • In [...]

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5. Review: North of Need by Laura Kaye



Title: North of Need

Author: Laura Kaye

Publisher: Entangled Publishing




May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

While attempting to escape the agonizing memories she associates with Christmas, twenty-nine-year-old widow Megan Snow builds a snow family outside the mountain cabin she once shared with her husband–and collapses in tears against the snowman at the sight of what she’ll never have.

Called to life by the power of Megan’s tears, snow god Owen Winters appears unconscious on her doorstep in the midst of a raging blizzard. As she nurses him to health, Owen finds unexpected solace in her company and unimagined pleasure in the warmth of her body, and vows to win her heart for a chance at humanity.

Megan is drawn to Owen’s mismatched eyes, otherworldly masculinity, and enthusiasm for the littlest things, and her heart opens enough to believe he’s a Christmas miracle. But this miracle comes with an expiration–before the snow melts and the temperature rises, Megan must let go of her widow’s grief and learn to trust love again, or she’ll lose Owen forever."

West of Want coming Spring 2012; South of Surrender coming Summer 2012; East of Ecstasy coming Fall 2012


When I started reading North of Need, I was instantly intrigued.  The hero, a god of winter, is a snowman brought to life by the heroine’s tears of grief.  I had to read this!  I don’t think I’ve read a book about a snowman coming to life.  It made me wonder what Frosty would look like if he took the guise of a human.  Armed with the knowledge of Frosty’s fate, I was even more interested to see how the author handled the life cycle of a snowman.  Winter doesn’t last forever, so there would be more tears somewhere down the line.  How everything worked out after that also had my interest piqued.

I loved the start of this novel.  Megan is hiding away from the world, still grieving for her husband, who died two years before.  On Christmas Day, of all horrible things!  Megan feels guilty for John’s death, and she just can’t forgive herself.  She is stuck in a cycle of grief that silently eats away at her, worrying her family and her friends.

Alone in their cabin retreat, Megan is ready for another year of unhappiness without her beloved John.  He was her sun and stars, and without him, she doesn’t feel complete.  She can’t imagine feeling that much love for another, nor can she contemplate suffering another loss.  Once is enough, and Megan is resigned to living a lifetime alone, mourning for something that she can’t trust herself to have again.

After making a family of snowmen in the yard during a freak blizzard, she is shocked by the arrival of a half-naked, very sexy man.  Owen desperately needs her help, and even if he is a stranger, Megan can’t just leave him outside in the freezing cold.  What she doesn’t know is that Owen is an Anemoi, a weather god.  He is a god of snow, and he has come to help Megan move on with her life on behalf of John.  If Owen can earn Megan’s love, he can also become mortal, giving up his centuries’ long existence.  Orphaned at a young age and then betrayed by l

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6. Review: The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller


Title: The Song of Achilles

Author: Madeline Miller

Publisher: Ecco

ISBN: 978-0062060617


May Contain Spoilers

From Amazon:

Patroclus, an awkward young prince, has been exiled to the kingdom of Phthia. Here he is just another unwanted boy living in the shadow of King Peleus and his golden son, Achilles. Yet one day, Achilles takes the shamed prince under his wing. As they grow into young men their bond blossoms into something far deeper – despite the displeasure of Achilles’s mother. When word comes that Helen of Sparta has been kidnapped, the men of Greece are called upon to lay siege to Troy in her name. Seduced by the promise of a glorious destiny, Achilles joins their cause. Torn between love and fear for his friend, Patroclus follows Achilles into war, little knowing that the years that follow will test everything they have learned.


February was an exciting month for me, book-wise.  Why, you ask? Because I discovered three Holy Crap This is a Good Book books.  Yes, this coveted designation, so carefully thought out, was awarded to three different reads.  Deadly by Julie Chibbaro, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, and the last book I started in the month of love, The Song of Achilles.  It’s appropriate that I stumbled on this title in February, because it is all about love – love for friends, love for self, love for that one, true soul mate.  How love changes, and how it brings out the best, and the worst, in two extremely different men.

I have loved The Iliad and The Odyssey since I was in elementary school.  Learning about Ancient Greece started a lifelong fascination for cultures, both ancient and modern, and opened up a whole new world for me: I discovered how much fun independent study can be.  I spent hours in the library, reading about the Greek gods and goddesses, about ancient Greek heroes, and how they lived, and about how they died.  Reading a re-imagined siege of Troy now that I’m an adult gave me a sense of awe – Homer’s stories survived thousands of years after his death, and have entertained generations of people.  These characters are truly immortal, and because of their strengths and flaws, they have become the definition of heroes.  What a legacy Homer created for himself.

The Song of Achilles is the story of Patroclus and Achilles, rendered in beautiful prose that enchants and engages.  It was hard to step away from the story, as both characters grew in depth and complexity.  I came to love Patroclus, and to see him for what he was destined to be.  As one adventure rolled into another, he gained wisdom and compassion. As his love for Achilles swelled out of control, too much for him to keep contained and hidden within his heart, he became more dear to me.  How could he dare to love this prince, destined to be the greatest hero the Greeks had ever known, and not be destroyed by the turmoil threatening their relationship?  Just knowing that Achilles’ mother was so disapproving of him  should have ended the relationship before it ever began, but nothing could come between them.  This is a love story for the ages.  Nothing could drive them apart; not gods or war or those ugly, bitter flaws that lie hidden in all of us.

I was afraid, as I read this book, and as the tide of fate marched Achilles and Patroclus closer and closer to Troy, that there would be no sense of suspense.  That it

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7. The Gods of Spec Fic

Thanks to J.L. Bell of Oz and Ends for pointing me to this SF Signal post about the use of gods in fantasy. The question is…

In a created fantasy world, gods can proliferate by the hundreds. When building religious systems for fantasies, what are the advantages/disadvantages of inventing pantheons vs. single gods, or having no religious component at all?

I’m not going to address that question directly, because it’s already been done in that original post by luminaries in a constellation far beyond me, but it did give me a few thoughts to chew on.

Today, for stories set in an age of mythology and heroes, a pantheon of gods has come to be the expected norm–but that wasn’t generally true of the fantasy I grew up with. There were no gods in Middle Earth, Shannara, Pern, Xanth, Earthsea, Landover, or Oz–or if there were, they didn’t make a big enough impact to stick in my memory. The theology of Narnia was Christianity in a lion’s pelt. Some books set in Camelot depicted a lingering folk belief in the Celtic gods, but always in a doomed struggle against the encroachment of monotheism. Low fantasy characters like Conan the Barbarian were always running afoul of some members of the Temple of the Cult of Something-Or-Other, but they hardly ever got developed well enough to be called a pantheon.

But the fantasy shelves of the very late 20th and early 21st Centuries have been packed with gods-a-plenty from a generation of authors raised on Greek mythology in the classroom and after-school sessions of Dungeons & Dragons. Not just polytheistic systems of worship but real dei-ex-machina characters who interact with their mortal followers in the works like The Belgariad and Malloreon of David Eddings or Terry Pratchett’s Discworld novels. Even in contemporary fantasy, Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson & the Olympians” novels posit the continued influence of the Greek pantheon over Western Civilization; mythological figures pervade the works of Neil Gaiman; Philip Pullman’s multiverse of “His Dark Materials” shows God as a figurehead among a multitude of angelic beings; the alternate universe of Jonathan Stroud’s “Bartimaeus Trilogy” is full of godlike demons; and I’m eagerly awaiting the final book of Garth Nix’s “Keys to the Kingdom” series with its pantheon of godlike Trustees in the House at the center of the universe.

My own personal confession is that I have an epic fantasy in my backburner files that’s probably my favorite story out of everything I’ve ever written, and it’s jam packed wall-to-wall with gods and goddesses. Having an active and intrusive pantheon immediately marks a story world as outside our current experience–which is the aim of any fantasy. The existence of gods influences histories, languages, cultures, politics, and lifestyles, and provides a jumping-off point for potentially world-shattering conflicts.

Part of it is probably that gods are fun to write, but I still like to blame Edith Hamilton and Gary Gygax.

Posted in Greg R. Fishbone Tagged: fantasy, gods

4 Comments on The Gods of Spec Fic, last added: 5/15/2009
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8. Who is YOUR god? Take the test and find out!

According to surveys, 95% of Americans believe in God. Although it can sometimes feel that the greatest rifts are between believers and non-believers, disputes are more often caused between groups of believers who simply don’t agree about what God is like. In America’s Four Gods: What We Say About God – and What That Says About Us, Paul Froese and Christopher Bader use original survey data, in-depth interviews, and “The God Test” to reveal the four types of god most American’s believe in. Indeed, this is the most comprehensive and illuminating survey of Americans’ religious beliefs ever conducted.

In The God Test, the four gods presented are the Authoritative God, the Benevolent God, the Critical God, and the Distant God.

What distinguishes believers in an Authoritative God is their strong conviction that God judges human behavior and sometimes acts on that judgment. Indeed, they feel that God can become very angry and is capable of meting out punishment to those who are unfaithful or ungodly. Americans with this perspective often view human suffering as the result of Divine Justice. Approximately 31% of Americans believe in an Authoritative God.

Like believers in the Authoritative God, believers in a Benevolent God see His handiwork everywhere. But they are less likely to think that God judges and punishes human behavior. Instead, the Benevolent God is mainly a force of positive influence in the world and is less willing to condemn individuals. Believers in this God feel that whether sinners or saints, we are all are free to call on the Benevolent God to answer our prayers in times of need. Approximately 24% of Americans believe in a Benevolent God.

Believers in a Critical God imagine a God that is judgmental of humans, but rarely acts on Earth, perhaps reserving final judgment for the afterlife. The Critical God appears to hold a special place in the hearts of those who are the most in need of help yet are denied assistance. Approximately 16% of Americans believe in a Critical God.

Believers in a Distant God view God as a cosmic force that set the laws of nature in motion and, as such, the Distant God does not really “do” things in the world or hold clear opinions about our activities or world events. In fact, believers in a Distant God may not conceive of God as an entity with human characteristics and are loathe to refer to God as a “he.” When describing God, they are likely to reference objects in the natural world, like a beautiful day, a mountaintop, or a rainbow rather than a human-like figure. These believers feel that images of God in human terms are simply inadequate and represent naïve or ignorant attempts to know the unknowable. Approximately 24% of Americans believe in a Distant God.


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9. The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Oympus, Book Two) by Rick Riordan

There isn't much info right now concerning the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series, The Son of Neptune, but the title seems to imply that Percy Jackson will be back in the spotlight... at least a little, anyway.

Here's the latest info from the Camp Half-Blood wiki.

"The Son of Neptune", (Roman equivalent of Poseidon) most likely refers to Percy Jackson, the main protagonist of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Percy did not appear in the first book, The Lost Hero, due to the fact that he had gone missing or possibly had been kidnapped, three days prior to the beginning of the book.

By the end of The Lost Hero, it is revealed that he has been swapped with Jason by Hera (Greek equivalent to Juno), and is now at the Roman equivalent of Camp Half-Blood. It is likely that he is unaware of his identity, just as Jason Grace was. It is unknown at this current time if Percy has likewise been set up with a new girlfriend and best friend like Jason was. It is also possible this book will tell of Percy's experience at the Roman camp while Jason was at the Greek one.

While the actual plot is still in the land of rumor, I think the idea of following Percy around in this new setting would be an interesting story, providing us with the chance to see a hero that's both familiar and different at the same time.

I'll be sure to keep you updated with any new information that comes along regarding The Son of Neptune.

1 Comments on The Son of Neptune (Heroes of Oympus, Book Two) by Rick Riordan, last added: 11/10/2010
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