I’ve been in love with Greek mythology all my life. I remember reading my children’s treasury of Greek mythology (I’ve forgotten the exact title) as a little girl and being utterly spellbound by the incredible epic tales of heroic warriors, vengeful gods, terrifying monsters, and powerful goddesses as sly as they were stunning. The beautiful illustrations in the book further enhanced my imagination, allowing me to visualize the snowcapped peak of Olympus, the sparkling sea caves of the Nereids, and the fury of “owl-eyed” Hera.
As I grew up, I continued to gravitate toward those magical myths, watching documentaries on TV, reading articles, poems, and novels like the tremendous Till We Have Faces by C.S. Lewis. In college, I took a Greek mythology class and became convinced I would write my own books on the subject one day.
Moonbow was my first novel, and, not surprisingly, it was inspired by ancient Greece and the capricious deities who filled it. Age of the Ashers, my latest novel, is the first book in The Petros Chronicles series, and follows a teenaged girl named Chloe who learns that she possesses a god-like power that’s blacklisted her among the most dangerous gods in the universe, namely Apollo and Hades, lord of the Underworld. You can read the first 50 pages for free by clicking here.
I’ve also written a number of women’s fitness books (my husband Ben and I own a CrossFit gym here in San Antonio), and am also working on finishing The Orchid Series, which is a contemporary women’s series, so not at all related to Greek mythology. But myths will forever be a part of me, and so I know with absolutely certainty I’ll be inspired to weave them into my writing all my life.
Myths speak to qualities like honor, valor, love, relationships, allegiance, community, and so on. They’re rich with value because they contain countless layers of meaning, pulsate with raw, palpable emotion, and are laden with psychological symbols. They’re powerful because they communicate universal themes, motifs and dynamics to which the entire world can relate.
Without further ado, here are my top three favorite gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, along with photos, just for fun J.
Persephone – goddess of spring growth; queen of the Underworld
Why I like her: The myth of Demeter and Persephone is one of the first myths I ever remember reading, and probably the first I was deeply captivated by, so Persephone is definitely special to me for sentimental reasons. But beyond the nostalgia she evokes, I love her because of the compassion she showed to one of my favorite mythological heroes, Orpheus, famed poet and musician.
In the well-known myth of Orpheus, his beloved wife Eurydice is killed by a viper. After a long, woeful mourning period, Orpheus travels to the Underworld, lulls the three-headed guard dog to sleep, then beseeches Hades to send Eurydice back to earth. Persephone was moved to tears by the poet’s plea and granted his request, although what followed was another tragedy. Orpheus violated the only condition Hades had given, sending Eurydice back into the darkness, never to emerge again.
Orpheus is one of the main characters in Age of the Ashers, and my personal favorite!
Here’s the 1959 poster for the movie Black Orpheus, a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth, set during the time of the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro.
HERMES – emissary and messenger of the gods; god of flocks, travelers, roads, and trade
Why I like him: He’s the class clown of the pantheon, always stirring up mischief, like when, as a newborn, he snuck out of his crib, stole the cattle from the god Apollo, and crafted the first lyre from a tortoise shell. In Age of the Ashers, he’s assigned the task of stopping Chloe from realizing her potential, and comes up with a clever, albeit villainous, plan to do so.
Here’s Hermes as depicted by Nathan Fillion in the film Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters.
Here’s a more traditional rendition:
ATHENA – goddess of wisdom and military victory; patron goddess of Athens
Why I like her: Strong, smart, strategic, artistic, not obsessed with men… What’s not to love about Athena? To me, she’s all things “Girl Power!!!”
One of favorite myths about her is the one in which she competes against Poseidon for the namesake of Athens. In the midst of a huge crowd, she and the sea god went up to the Acropolis to present their gifts to the city. Poseidon went first, striking the earth with his massive trident. At the ground where the spear struck, a forceful spring burst out, producing a sea which is now called Erekhtheis. The people were quite impressed, but their awe soon faded when they found the spring was salty.
Athena, less ostentatious than her brother, quietly knelt down and buried something in the ground, the seed for an olive tree. This turned out to be a much more useful gift, granting the people not only the olives themselves as sustenance, but also their oil as a source of fuel for their lamps and wood for their homes and ships. The wisdom of her offering gave her victory, and Athens claimed her as their patron.
Athena shows up in Book 3 of The Petros Chronicles, which I’m currently editing.
Here’s a picture of the goddess from the Disney movie, Hercules.
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Diana has been writing all her life, starting with her own versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle comics when she was four. She's always been fascinated with Greek mythology and comic book superheroes, all of which inspire her fantasy novels. She's also a gym rat who loves to pretend she's Wonder Woman while lifting heavy weights and swinging from rings and pull-up bars. She co-owns CrossFit 925 in San Antonio, Texas with her husband Ben.
Diana currently writes entertainment and media-related articles for movieguide.org and contributes regularly to charismamag.com. When she isn't writing or working out, she can be found playing Scrabble with her husband, watching Marvel and Pixar movies, and pinning recipes on Pinterest that she never gets around to cooking.
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