Ancient Greek mythology has been a popular subject of reading and study for centuries, largely thanks to the codification of The Iliad, The Odyssey, and Hesiod’s Works and Days among many, many other works that helped to preserve this complex mythology for millennia. Now, anyone familiar with ancient Greek mythology knows that it is far from internally consistent. These stories persisted for millennia even before they were written down. Many have been lost and others fragmented along the narrative telephone of history, and that’s not even touching on regional variations. The stories come with multiple versions, many of which conflict, and many more disagree with modern sensibilities. I mean, the most common inciting incident in approximately twenty percent of the myths and the origin story of three-fourths of the heroes is “unfortunately, Zeus was feeling horny” which is only a singular facet of what makes the mythology uncomfortable to consume at best, and unsuitable in the cases of younger audiences at worst. As someone who grew up reading nearly every book on ancient Greek mythology that I could get my hands on, it wasn’t until I was a fair bit older that I fully realized just how sanitized those tellings were and how—in a word—uncomfortable the full mythos was.
It seems to be a running theme nowadays to rewrite ancient Greek mythos into something a bit more palatable. Right now, the most popular retelling of ancient Greek mythology is Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson, which was a smash hit in the early 2000s and by all accounts, not a terrible modernization of a convoluted web of ancient stories, made suitable and engaging for a younger audience. I haven’t read them in a while, but I definitely recall that Riordan’s stories drew strongly from Ovid’s Metamorphosis, which is understandable since Ovid’s work makes for a convenient reference as a singular book rather than a mess of scattered fragmentary stories. This is not a criticism of Riordan’s stories, but more of an observation. After all, tackling the subject of Greek mythology is no simple feat given its scope and breadth alone, but that’s probably part of what makes this material so magnetic for storytellers that they keep tapping back into it.
There are infinite ways that storytellers can rearrange the fragments of Greek mythology we have, and this is exactly what Rachel Smythe did with Lore Olympus. [Read more…] about Lore Olympus: A Culmination of a Millennia of Mythos