Thursday, March 20, 2008

Guest Blogger Kelley Heckart: Redefining the Greek Myths

I love this post, which won't surprise anyone who knows my fantasy work! Thanks so much, Kelley for such a GREAT post!!!

This is something that is fresh in my mind as I just finished the prequel to Of Water and Dragons and Ravenwolf. Titled, Night's Daughter, this book differs from my other books because the setting is ancient Crete and Anatolia (now Turkey) and I spent many hours doing research for this.

One of the research areas was on the Greek gods and goddesses. Should be easy, right? Wrong. Everything I was taught in school on the Greek gods was incomplete. It seems that there is much more to the story than the twelve Olympian gods. We can credit the Classical Greek writers for this because they were obviously biased about it. The Titans (pre-Hellenic gods) played a much more important part than they were given credit for. Also, the goddesses who are portrayed by Classical writers as being bitchy and difficult to deal with should have been given more credit because they were Great Goddesses of that land long before the triad of Sky Gods (known as Zeus, Poseidon and Hades) invaded. These difficult goddesses were forced to submit to these new gods so it is no wonder that Hera was in a bad mood most of the time. Can you blame her?

Some of these pre-Hellenic goddesses were forced to become daughters of Zeus. For example, Aphrodite was reborn as Zeus's daughter when in fact she was originally an eastern goddess in Cyprus. There are similarities between her, Sumerian Inanna, Egyptian Hathor/Sakhmet, Phoenician Astarte and Babylonian Ishtar. In later Greek myths, she is portrayed as a brainless, vain love goddess. In earlier myths, as sea-born, she was once a fertility goddess, the primal mother of all creation. As Inanna, Hathor/Sakhmet, Astarte and Ishtar, she was also a war goddess, blending aspects of fertility, love and war, a powerful goddess who commanded great respect. This is a big difference from the later depictions of Aphrodite. It was the patriarchal changes that turned her into a lowly love goddess serving Zeus. And poor Pandora, the giver of the Earth-goddesses gifts, was unjustly perverted by Classical Greek writers as the one who let all the world's ills out. These are only a couple of examples of how the myths changed when the Hellene culture took over ancient Greece.

The Titans were the original gods of the land (which included Gaia, Pandora, Themis, Aphrodite, Hera, Athena, Demeter, Persephone, the moon triad of Artemis, Selene and Hecate plus many other male and female gods) worshipped by the peaceful, matriarchal native peoples. When warlike northern invaders overthrew these people, the new Olympian gods came into power with Zeus as the ruler of the new gods. The once powerful Great Goddesses were demoted to wives and daughters of the new gods. We can thank the patriarchal society for this.

For more information on these pre-Hellenic goddesses, I recommend Lost Goddesses of Early Greece by Charlene Spretnak and The Greek Myths by Robert Graves. I also have a page on my website dedicated to some of these remarkable pre-Hellenic goddesses. Chicks rule!

Denyse, thanks for letting me guest blog!

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  1. Hey school never does teach you the complete story in anything.

    Nice post kelly.


  2. Hi Kelly!
    I love Mythology and agree with with both you and S.J., School never does teach it all. Im glad to see them coming around again, and illuminated in a new way.

    Great post!!

  3. This was very cool. Must have been great fun researching for your book!

  4. Sounds great Kelly. I'll have to read it and absorb form your research efforts. I do love Greek mythology, but I don't think I'd venture into this. Lazy I suppose. If I can't find the info I need in a click or two of the mouse, I skate around facts.

    *shame on me*

  5. I did HUGE amounts of reading for the writing of "As Fate Decrees" and it paid off, when two classics professors complimented my facts and said they couldn't find fault with the research, it was high praise, indeed - and made all the hours worthwhile. Plus, it's such fascinating stuff to read!!!!

    Again, thanks for being here, Kelley, and for posting something so interesting!!


  6. Thanks for all the wonderful comments!



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