Pantheon of the Dead by Jon Rosenberg, Alex Buck and Alison Buck
Now here comes the details of the Greek myths as I found that without looking them up I missed a great deal of this story – which was a pity. I suspect that if I don’t know these stories in detail then the average reader will not either, so here is what I have gleaned. I don’t propose that this is complete by any means but I can suggest some books to look at if you want to find out more….
Firstly you can look at the site: www.theoi.com which has a lot of charts and covers the main gods – this is a great site to look at.
I also bought myself some cheap books to explore the myths that I had either forgotten or didn’t know as I didn’t study Ancient Greek at school. Here are some more obscure gods/goddesses and their stories:
Mnemosyne is the Titan goddess of memory and remembrance, inventiveness of languages and words
She is the daughter of Ouranos (Heaven) and thus also a goddess of Time. She represented rote memorisation which was required of course before the invention of writing. She was the mother of the Muses who were the patron goddesses of poets and the oral tradition. She presided over the underground oracle of Trophonios.
Chaos is the parent of Nix. Chaos also gave birth to Erebus, Gaia, Tartarus and Eros.
Nix was the goddess of the Night and stood near the beginning of creation and was the mother of Hypnos (Sleep) and Thanatos (Death). She is found in the shadows and one can only catch glimpses of her. Her consort is Erebus (the primeval darkness). Note that there was a lot of marrying of siblings and even parents to children (and then they wondered why some of the children were a bit peculiar…)
Uranus asked Tartarus to take the Giants (his children with Gaia but..) as he didn’t like them.
Gaia was very unhappy about this and thus asked the Titans to kill Uranus. Cronus agreed. Cronus then castrated Uranus and threw his penis into the sea. Uranus’ blood created more Giants on the earth but in the sea his penis created Aphrodite the first deity within the 12 Olympians.
Cronus then sent all his siblings into Tartarus except Rhea who he married.
The children of Cronus and Rhea are: Hades; Poseidon; Hestia; Demeter; Hera; and Zeus
Cronus then ate all his children except Zeus who, when he was born, Rhea substituted a rock for. Cronus swallowed the rock instead without noticing.
Zeus was smuggled away by Gaia and grew up safely.
Gaia gave Zeus a potion that would make Cronus expel all the previously swallowed siblings, who would now be fully grown. Having been expelled from Cronus the 5 fled to Mount Olympus and Aphrodite. Zeus also released everyone from Tartarus.
Cronus and his sibling Titans then went to war with the gods on Mt Olympus. Zeus et al won and imprisoned Cronus in Tartarus. The other Titans were put to work. Eg Atlas to hold the skies, and Prometheus – rock . Zeus was now on Mt Olympus with Poseidon, Artemis, Apollo, Hades and Perseus.
Hades is the god of the Underworld, the Dead and Riches. He is the brother of Zeus and Poseidon and fought the Titans with them. His children are Macaria, Melinoe and Zagreus. There were several sections to the Underworld, including Elysium (Islands of the Blessed), the Asphodel Meadows (for the ‘shades’ of heroes) and Tartarus where they kept imprisoning people they didn’t like.
The dead entered the world through the river Acheron, being ferried by Charon who charged the one coin that you placed in the mouth of the newly dead.
There were five rivers in the Underworld: Acheron (sorrow or woe); Cocytus (lamentation); Phlegethon (fire); Styx (hate) and Lethe (oblivion) although some traditions also call Lethe the sea of tears
Before the palace of Hades sit the three judges of the Underworld: Minos ,Rhadamanthus, and Aeacus. There souls are judged, returned to Asphodel if they are neither virtuous nor evil, sent to Tartarus if they are impious or evil, or sent to Elysium with the “blameless” heroes.
Some more marriages and births:
Zeus M Hera (women and marriage) = Ares; Hephaestus (Blacksmiths)
Poseidon M Amphitrite (sea goddess)
Zeus M Demeter = Persephone
Persephone: well we all know the story of her and Hades – She is also called Kore. Kore meaning the ‘maiden’.
That said, tradition also has her having relations with her father Zeus and this being the mother of Dionysius. This tradition predates that of the Olympians.
Demeter M Poseidon
Zeus M Leto (daughter of Titans) = Apollo, Artemis
Zeus M Maia (daughter of Atlas) = Hermes
Prometheus then created the first men out of clay and taught them a civilised life style. Zeus refused to give them fire, but Prometheus gave it to them anyway. Zeus created the first woman in retribution!!!! = Pandora. Epimetheseus persuaded Pandora to open her jar. Out flew a collection of ailments that Zeus had sent to torment mankind. These included: old age, jealousy, anger, laziness, fear of death, uncontrolled passion, the dangers of childbirth etc.
So now you know all of the above, you can read the book The Pantheon of the Dead!.
I liked the book but did find that my lack of knowledge of the above details – I was never taught classical Greek or the classical history at school – left me somewhat stranded at times. So whilst I would recommend the book to all readers with the above knowledge, if you don’t, you need to be sure you know your Greek myths or study them alongside!
I do hope that it wasn’t his education showing and being shown off… and that the next book on the series is easier to follow. According to his bio it isn’t but still.. I await the next book in the Hidden Academy series with interest especially as he says it is set in Wales and I do like that country.