Welcome Mythmaniacs!


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(Please read Chapter I, Chapter II and Chapter III first, or shake your head in puzzlement...)

Fearless Athena was the ancient Greek goddess of wisdom, war, the arts, industry, justice and skill - this was one magnificent, multitalented lady, as you will see. Out of all his kids, Athena was the favorite child of Zeus, even though being present at her birth gave him an Olympic-sized migraine. I'm not joking.

You see, she had sprung fully grown out of her father's head! Her alleged "mother" was Metis, goddess of wisdom and Zeus' first wife. Others claim that Athena had no mother, but that she was the daughter of Zeus alone, having sprung from his head.

Nit-pickers! Either way, papa Zeus adored his girl Athena. Or did almighty Zeus fear her? Athena and I once discussed it over lunch - first making sure Zeus wasn't listening - and we laughingly concluded that it was the latter.

Brave Athena was peerless - Even Zeus didn't want to mess with her!

Yes sir, I can still hear the heated exchanges between the ancient poets Hesiod and Homer regarding Athena's parentage, arguments lasting deep into the night down at Thanasi's Olympus Greek Restaurant, which to this day is the preferred earthly hangout of mortals and Olympians alike:

"I don't care if Zeus is an Immortal, there's no way Athena pops out'ta his head, shield, spear and all, and he doesn't even get a scratch. Listen, dude, the fire god Hephaestus supposedly split his damn head open with a huge axe! Do you really expect anyone to swallow that? We'll be the laughingstocks of Greece for five thousand years, Hesiod!"

"Easy, Homer my boy. Take a pill. (Waitress, no more Ambrosia for my friend, please - and take away his chariot keys.) That's just it, don't you see? The more implausible we make the darn stories, the more notorious we become, and the richer we get."

Zeus was always paranoid, especially during the first couple of thousand years of his reign, when he was young, horny, full of himself and often recklessly foolish. I'm not revealing anything new here, even Zeus will admit as much.

After all, he became King and Supreme Ruler of all the gods of Mount Olympus by violently dethroning his father Cronus, and he constantly fretted that the same fate might befall him.

Fearing that Metis would bear a son mightier than himself, who could grow up to supplant his rule, Zeus swallowed his wife. Right down his throat went the hapless goddess! Snuck up on her Greek-style when she wasn't looking, I guess.

Metis never saw it coming - she thought that their relationship was on solid footing, especially now, when she had just excitedly announced to Zeus that she was with child. Hah! Fat chance!

Nice guy. Dare we ask what's for dessert?

Metis wasn't going to take lightly being swallowed alive by her husband  - would you? The clever woman, deathless deep inside the belly of Zeus, at once began to craft a robe, spear, shield and helmet for her unborn daughter. The hammering of the helmet and shield caused Zeus great pain in the form of headaches and he cried out in agony.

(Please don't ask where Metis got the material to make these items, or how she snuck them past Zeus, ok? You're over-thinking this.)

So there sat Zeus, omnipotent god engulfed in unbearable pain! That'll teach the big oaf to gobble up his spouse, King of the Olympians or not!

Skilled Hephaestus, the god of smiths and fire, alarmed by the blood-curdling screams raced to his father's aid and - perhaps over-reacting a tad - with a mighty blow split open with an axe the skull of Zeus to relieve his distress.

Drastic, to say the least, but highly effective - The Mount Olympus pharmacy was closed for the evening, after all, and you just know that those ten-hour lineups at Olympus General Hospital Emergency really suck. Axe it was, therefore, smack between those bushy eyebrows!

From the head of Zeus emerged beautiful Athena, truly a vision to behold, fully grown and sporting her mother's newly crafted robe and helmet, shouting out a piercing war cry that rang out in the Heavens and on earth, and places far beyond.

Even the startled mega-gods Hades and Poseidon, one in the Underworld, the other in his underwater palace, heard their niece Athena emerge triumphant from Zeus' cranium, and hastened to Olympus to see what the commotion was about.

Talk about a "splitting headache"! Way to make an impressive entrance, girl! Bravo!

(I once asked Hephaestus if his "delivery" of Athena made him Zeus' midwife, but the stoic god didn't find it amusing. Lighten up, Heph! Dude was the hardest working deity on Mount Olympus, and his brilliant talent was limitless, but he had absolutely no sense of humor.

(And damn, but Heph was butt ugly! As a baby, Persephone, Queen of the Underworld, had to string a raw rack of lamb around his neck, just so Cerberus, the three-headed hound of Hades, would play with Hephaestus.

(By the way, it was harmless, silly stuff like the above, which ultimately got me banished from Mount Olympus, and landed me unceremoniously on Earth, tasked with writing these myths. I explain everything at my Intro.

(I'm sorry, Auntie Hera! I'm really sorry! Let me back! Please talk to her, Zeus!)

Oh my... How I digress...Us ancient Greek gods were a real hoot, I'm here to tell you. It's a good thing we were immortal, for the most part.

Disclaimer - Don't try the migraine relief method at home, folks, I urge you to stick to more mainstream remedies.

I heard Hesiod say that Athena was born equal to her father in strength and wisdom. That's not true - she was much smarter! Zeus will vouch to that.

Even though initially she gave him a major headache, Athena was Zeus' favorite child, and eventually he turned over to her his Aegis, the protective shield which used to be the goat Amy. Athena accessorized it by adding Medusa's head to it. She was the only one permitted full use of Zeus' weapons, including his devastating thunderbolts.

Hesiod said that Zeus had no brains until Athena was born out of his head, making him instantly wise. Athena always had that kind of influence on people, she enriched your life and mind.

But before Zeus smartened up, he embarked on a journey of frenzied debauchery that eventually turned his fellow Olympians against him. First he sought out his twin sister, Hera, came to her in a disguise and ravished her. They were married and spent a wedding night that was said to have lasted three hundred years.

"Three hundred year long wedding night?! Hesiod, your name rhymes with idiot! I don't care how beautiful Hera was, there's not a male who can stand being alone with a woman in a room for three days, let alone three hundred years! Are you drunk? Have you no clue, sir? Surely you're speaking metaphorically - it was actually three days alone with Hera, but it felt more like three hundred years, right?"

Homer always over-reacted to Hesiod's claims, much to the delight and amusement of Hesiod, who loved pulling his leg. I swear he came up with the most improbable ideas just to get a rise out of Homer, who always bit...

"Yes, Homey, three hundred year long wedding night. You got a problem with that? He was assisted throughout by the satyr Viagra, Greek god of Virility."

When his mother Rhea advised Zeus against marriage, to Hera or anyone else, Zeus ravished Rhea in the form of a snake. Then things got real ugly.

Zeus embarked on a drunken and out of control rampage, power tripping and wreaking havoc wherever he went, indiscriminately firing off thunderbolts at whim, and seducing anything wearing a toga. Talk about a rebel without a cause! Easy on the crack pipe, Zeus! Man, was he ever wired!

Next: Our story continues next month with Aphrodite, goddess of Love...Don't miss it!