Monday 29 July 2013

Welcome to Scribble City Central!

If you've just stumbled over this blog, there's lots to read for myth lovers, writers and people who are generally interested in the world of books. Please feel free to explore, but I've put some links below to get you started.  I'm locked away writing a novel right now, which involves lots of tricky ancient history research and general apply-bum-to-seat-and-get-on-with-it stuff, so I may be absent for a while. However, I'll post any interesting news and developments here as and when they happen, and for my latest thoughts on writing, you can find me over at An Awfully Big Blog Adventure on the 19th of every month. Meanwhile, have fun delving into the world of Scribble City!

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Friday 21 December 2012

Fantabulous Fridays A-Z: Z is for Zephyr with Caroline Lawrence

Scribble City Central's forty-second and final Fantabulous Friday comes from Caroline Lawrence.  Caroline is the author of 21 Roman Mysteries books, and has now embarked on a new odyssey - an American one this time - with her whip-cracking, action packed detective adventure series, set in the Wild West.  

Number one of these Western Mysteries is The Case of the Deadly Desperados,  and it has one of the most intriguing opening lines I've come across for ages:

"My name is P.K. Pinkerton, and before this day is over, I will be dead."

Of course, I wanted to read on immediately! I have a secret passion for both detective novels and Westerns (Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one of my all-time favourite films), and Caroline has done a brilliant job of recreating the feel of those times, as well as writing a fun and gripping story.  I have to say, I loved it down to the last chaw of tobacco! 

Caroline has been generous enough to say she'll give away a copy of both this, and one of her Roman Mysteries books (The Colossus of Rhodes) - all you have to do is comment, saying which one you'd like, and why, in the comments below! 

After so many books, Caroline has an encyclopaedic knowledge of all things Roman - including the niceties of sponge-sticks (used for toileting purposes!) and, naturally, sewers.  I've just caught up with The Sewer Demon - from her new Roman Mystery Scrolls series for younger readers - and I can safely say that it's full of the sort of disgusting information which small boys will love.  I'm in awe of the way she makes Threptus's world come vividly alive just by describing small details of clothing - an undertaker's black cloak, an equestrian's double-striped tunic - and by generally making the reader feel that the ancient city of Ostia is somewhere recognisable and real, even to our 21st century eyes. Threptus's antics in the sewers made me laugh like...well...a drain, and I'm looking forward to more books very much. Caroline has done more to promote the joys of the classical world to kids than anyone I can think of, and, as always, I salute her, and will now pass you over to her to tell you about our final being in the Fantabulous Fridays A-Z. Euge!  

Z is for Zephyr
West Wind Wafter

CL:  I’m a split-personality Gemini who writes kids’ history-mystery stories set in two tightly specific periods: Ostia, the port of Rome in AD 79-81 and Virginia City, Nevada Territory in 1862-63. You’d think those two settings would be quite different, but they have a few things in common. 
- Both towns are about the same size.
- Both communities mainly depended on horses, donkeys, mules – and feet – for transport.
- Medical knowledge was about the same in both periods.
- And there is one other surprising overlap: the Zephyr! 

In both periods, Zephyr was a mythic interpretation of the west wind. 

In Greek and Latin mythology, Zephyr (Greek Ζεφυρος; Latin Zephyrus) was the male personification of the west wind. Although the English word ‘zephyr’ means a soft, gentle breeze today, in the earliest Classical periods Zephyros was fierce. Homer gives him the epithets “blustering” and “stormy”. Sappho calls him “strongly-blowing”. 

But, like me and my schizophrenic love of Roman and Western things, Zephyrus is two-faced. In the Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite he is no longer fierce but gentle: his moist breath wafts new-born Aphrodite over the foamy brine. Likewise Virgil likens him to a gentle-breeze and Hesiod has his breath stir a shining garment. 

Usually depicted as smooth-cheeked and handsome, Zephyr swings both ways. He falls for a beautiful boy named Hyacinth (then jealously slays him when the lad seems to prefer Apollo) but he also seduces flower nymph Chloris, harpy Podarge and rainbow Iris (and gets them all pregnant). Definitely a dual-natured dude!

In my tenth Roman Mystery, The Colossus of Rhodes, my four child protagonists sail from Corinth on a mission to find freeborn children kidnapped for slavery. They sail from mainland Greece and drop anchor at several Greek islands before heading to Rhodes. As they would be at the mercy of the winds I used the ruined Tower of the Winds in Athens, (a sort of ancient breeze compass), to put together a handy map for my detectrix Flavia and her friends. My wonderful artist husband did the drawing  below. On their sea-voyage, the four friends also meet the young poet Gaius Valerius Flaccus, whose Argonautica also mentions sacrificing to Zephyrus for a favourable wind. 

A kind of Zephyr also appears in my other kids’ detective series, the P.K. Pinkerton Mysteries. In the second half of the 19th century in Western America, “sage-brush literature” flourished for a generation or two. Writers like A.J. Marsh, Bret Harte, Dan DeQuille and Mark Twain mined the vocabulary of Nevada silver prospectors and discovered nuggets of pure-gold slang. For example, a hee-hawing mule was called a “Washoe Canary” (Washoe was one name for the silver-bearing region of Nevada) and a prostitute dubbed a “Soiled Dove”. 

Here is Mark Twain’s description of the ironically named “Washoe Zephyr” a near hurricane-force wind that roared down from the Sierra Nevada range to the west of Virginia City. 

… it was two o’clock, now, and according to custom the daily “Washoe Zephyr” set in; a soaring dust-drift about the size of the United States set up edgewise… the vast cloud was thickly freckled with things strange to the upper air – things living and dead… hats, chickens and parasols sailing in the remote heavens; blankets, tin signs, sage-brush and shingles a shade lower; door-mats and buffalo robes lower still; shovels and coal scuttles on the next grade; glass doors, cats and little children on the next… The “Washoe Zephyr” is a peculiar Scriptural wind, in that no man knoweth “whence it cometh”… it comes right over the mountains from the West, but when one crosses the ridge he does not find any on the other side!

Mark Twain was still Sam Clemens in 1862, when he arrived in Virginia City as a 26-year-old failed prospector taking up a post as a local reporter on the Territorial Enterprise. One of his first published articles was about the Washoe Zephyr, demonstrating that you could even tell tall tales in the newspaper in them thar days: 

A GALE. – About 7 o’clock Tuesday evening a sudden blast of wind picked up a shooting gallery, two lodging houses and a drug store from their tall wooden stilts and set them down again some ten or twelve feet back of their original location, with such a degree of roughness as to jostle their insides into a sort of chaos. There were many guests in the lodging houses at the time of the accident, but it is pleasant to reflect that they seized their carpet sacks and vacated the premises with an alacrity suited to the occasion. No one hurt.

In his book Roughing It, about his sojourn in the Wild West, Twain even includes a humorous drawing of the Washoe Zephyr. My husband Richard did his own version below. 

I managed to work this scene-deepening wind into P.K.’s first adventure, when our eponymous hero is to escape a gang of bullies as well as three deadly desperados in Virginia City, and is nearly decapitated by a corrugated tin roof sent sailing by the Zephyr. 

As I started to cross B Street to get to the other side, part of a tin roof flew past me, at neck level. A foot to the left and it would have chopped off my head. It seemed that Virginia City itself was out to get me.
(The Case of the Deadly Desperados, p. 168)

So in a way, the blustery Zephyr of early Greek mythology has come full circle with the prospectors’ hurricane-force breeze. And I reckon that’s fitting, as the epic poets and the “sagebrush humorists” all loved a good tale told by firelight. 

May all your Zephyrs be gentle and warm, and may none of them impregnate you nor decapitate you by means of a piece of corrugated tin!

P.S. I’m giving away a signed copy of The Colossus of Rhodes and a signed copy of The Case of the Deadly Desperados. Just leave a comment below saying which one you would like and why! Winners will be notified in the New Year.

SCC: Thank you so much, Caroline. That was as fascinating as always, and I'm sure there'll be lots of takers for your generous giveaway. What a great end to the SCC A-Z! 

Thank also to everyone who's been following this series so faithfully - Scribble City Central will be back after the Christmas break.  Happy Holidays to you all! 

Friday 14 December 2012

Fantabulous Fridays A-Z: Y for Yokai with Zoe Marriott

Scribble City Central's penultimate and forty-first Fantabulous Friday comes from Zoë Marriott.  You may not have come across Zoë's novels yet, in which case you are in for a real reading treat.  Shadows on the Moon is a truly original YA fantasy about shadow weaver Suzume, set in a 'secondary world' Japan, and her latest, Frostfire, made me stay up all night to finish it. The other two - The Swan Kingdom and Daughter of the Flames - are equally page-turning high fantasy. I promise you, she's a talent to watch, and, my instinct tells me, about to become the Next Really Big Thing in YA publishing.

I don't say this lightly. I read a lot of YA.  Some of it is very good, some of it is 'meh', some of it is average. Rarely is it truly excellent. Zoë's work definitely comes under the latter category, and I'm pleased to say that I have an SCC EXCLUSIVE to share with you! 

Scribble City Central has been extremely privileged to be the VERY FIRST to read a copy of Zoë's newest novel, The Night Itself, the first in The Name of the Blade trilogy. I've sworn on pain of instant excommunication not to put up any spoilers, but I can tell you that this is the most unusual take on urban fantasy I've read in years.  It's fresh, it's original, it has a cool factor of sub-zero and it's going to take the teen reading world by storm. If I'm wrong, I swear I'll eat a hat with a knife and fork in public.  Here's the little I can tell you about the plot: Mio wants a realistic weapon to wear with her Rukia anime costume to a fancy dress party - so she 'borrows' the Yamato family heirloom from the attic. The katana is an ancient sword, and by unsheathing it from its hiding place, she lets loose a terrifying evil from the past, which stalks the streets of London, killing at random. Pursued by gods and monsters from Japanese myth, Mio must learn to use the sword's mystical powers or suffer the consequences - and after the intriguingly honourable young warrior Shinobu enters her life, she learns that failure to do so might just break her heart.

I absolutely loved the way Zoë melds the life of a London teenage girl with aspects of Japanese culture - anime and manga fans will love the Kitsune fox clan - and makes it into such a smooth and credible whole.  Mio and her goth best friend Jack play off each other in a way which makes them really jump off the page, coming across to the reader as likeable, rounded and fully-formed characters - and Mio in particular has an overt bravery about her which I found extremely refreshing. Too many heroines in YA come across as tentative, unsure of themselves and just a bit inadequate in their own eyes. Mio is definitely not one of those 'always-questioning-herself' heroines – she's kickass and New Feminist, but portrayed in a sympathetic way that shows her as not 'Miss Perfect', and it makes me love her all the more to know that she does have some very human teengirl quirks and frailties.

I cared about what happened to every single one of the main protagonists - and my desire to know What Happens Next is Very Enormous.  I also loved the spark of curiosity Zoë lit in me with regard to Japanese myth.  It's not something I know a great deal about - but I'm going to investigate.  One story she refers to in the book (and I don't think she'll mind me mentioning this) is of the gods Izanagi and Izanami.  I was surprised at how many parallels there were with the mythical Greek stories of Ouranos and Gaia, and also of Persephone, Orpheus and Eurydice. Entirely fascinating for a myth geek such as myself.

Although The Night Itself isn't coming from Walker Books till July 2013, I'd urge you to put it on your wishlist right now.  Until then, and to give you an insight into some of the mythical characters in the book, here's Zoë to tell you about:

Y for Yokai
Mischievous Japanese Tricksters

ZM: The Yokai is a more or less unknown quantity for many people in the West. He or she – or even it – originates in Japan, a culture which, due to its many years of Isolationism, is still fascinatingly new and alien to most other cultures.

Yokai do not take any one form. In fact, they’re a whole class of mythical beings ranging from benevolent spirits who help humans, to mischievous trickster figures, to downright malevolent creatures who murder anyone that might cross their path. The word simply means ‘phantom’ or ‘apparition’.
But don’t run away with the idea that Yokai are ghosts! Although some of them are created from humans who have gone through extreme suffering, such as the Yuki-Onna, a female snow spirit thought to appear when a woman dies of exposure, others are embodiments of nature, like the Oni, a kind of ogre-ish creature tied to a certain geographical feature in the landscape, such as a mountain. Some Yokai are ‘spirit animals’ or ‘obake’ - normal cats, badgers, raccoons or snakes who undergo a magical transformation or simply live to such a great age that they gain the ability to shapeshift. There is a whole subclass of Yokai called Tsukumogami: everyday items like paper lanterns, tea kettles or even straw sandals which come to life when they reach a hundred years old!

The thing each Yokai has in common is the possession of a spirit or a soul of its own. These are not mindless creatures. Their actions, powers and habits may seem incomprehensible to humans, but there is usually a detailed back-story to their existence, and they are all very much alive, even when someone or something has had to die to call them into existence.
A selection of Japanese Yokai

In many ways, the teeming diversity of Yokai is the Japanese counterpart of the broad category of Western ‘fairies’, which includes selkies, brownies, elves, weres, haunts, gnomes, glims and the Sidhe or Fair Folk. But most of us have seen a dozen different incarnations of a werewolf, fairy or elf in books, on TV, and in the cinema. Few of us have even heard of the majority of Yokai. There’s a truly magical sense of the unknown about them, and a lot of space for writers and readers to exercise their imagination!

I think my fascination with Yokai dates back to a story I read in a Reader’s Digest anthology of fairytales and folklore when I was about ten. There were many Western stories in the book, but it also included the tale of a Kitsune – an immortal fox spirit – who fell in love with a mortal man, and eventually turned to a pillar of stone in her heartbreak when he chose a human wife over her. Such a melancholy story was unusual in a book of stories for children, and it appealed to me greatly.
Yokai came into my own work in quite a surprising way – not as part of the setting in one of my high or secondary world fantasies, but as the inspiration for my very first urban fantasy, and my first trilogy. I’d always wanted to write a fantasy set in this world. After the great explosion in young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy over the past couple of years, a lot of urban-fantasy-ish ideas were starting to develop in the back of my head; tropes that I was interested in subverting, characters that I wanted to turn on their heads, plots that I wanted to explore. But I needed a mythology, and by that point I was sick of vampires, elves, werewolves, fairies, angels and every other staple of the genre.

Then one day a friend of mine quoted the Robert Graves poem ‘The Bedpost’ to me. It’s about a legendary warrior who is trapped in the form of a wooden post until a pitying maiden should set him free. In the poem the maiden in question isn’t interested and the warrior remains trapped. Instantly I felt the need to write a different, more satisfying ending to this story. But my warrior wouldn’t be trapped in a bed post. He’d be imprisoned somewhere a bit more interesting… like in a sword. A Japanese katana, in fact. And my mythology would be the folklore of Japan, and my creatures – my heroine’s enemies and allies – would be the fascinating Yokai.

In writing about many different kinds of Yokai for The Night Itself – Book One of The Name of the Blade trilogy - I’ve tried to honour the spirit of their intricate origin stories, and the fact that each of them has complex motives and agendas. But because these creatures are roaming the streets of 21st century Britain, it also felt right to give them a little twist.

A Kitsune Fox spirit

One of my favourite Yokai is still the Kitsune. It seemed logical that London, a city which is known for its urban fox population, would have a distinct clan of urban Kitsune all its own. These foxes are as cunning and clever as their Japanese cousins, but they’re a lot less friendly to the humans who poison and shoot them than the Kitsune of folklore. They dress in the latest fashions and venture out to watch movies or shop, but they can still turn into foxes at will and shoot lightning from their tails when provoked. And their lack of concrete gender – the myths say that they can take any kind of human form they wish, whether it’s as a beautiful young woman or an ancient old man – would give even modern day teenagers pause.

You can find Yokai in all their forms roaming through Hayao Miyazaki’s astonishing animated films. If you want more detailed information, a copy of The Great Yokai Encyclopedia by Richard Freeman will show you how neatly and precisely the Japanese categorize these seemingly chaotic creatures.

SCC: Thank you so much, Zoë. I do love the fact that TNI was sparked off by a Robert Graves poem - I think the old master of mythology would love that.  The Yokai are fascinating, and I look forward to finding out more about them, as I'm sure do many of my readers.

Next Week: Caroline Lawrence, author of The Roman Mysteries, explores Z for Zephyros in the last of the series

Friday 7 December 2012

Fantabulous Fridays A-Z - X for Xanthos: an apology

Unfortunately, this week's Fantabulous Fridays A-Z post - X for Xanthos - will be delayed till later in the month, as Lauren St John is stuck in Africa with virtually no internet access.  She sends apologies - but I know all you Fantabulous Fridays fans won't mind waiting for her - it'll be well worth it, I promise!

Next week: Zoe Marriott, author of fabulous fantasy YA, tackles Y for Yokai (and there's the very first EXCLUSIVE sneaky peek at her new novel). Do join me then! 

Monday 3 December 2012

#TwitterFiction Festival: 100 Greek Myths in 100 Tweets (The Full Story 81-100)

The Final 20 - Part 5 of my heroic tweetfest - Philoctetes to Odysseus's Return to Ithaca

Snake strikes Philoctetes! 'Yeuch!' heave heroes as ace archer's wound worsens! Bowman left on Lemnos by callous companions 
Philoctetes, who had inherited Heracles' bow, was a brilliant archer. Unfortunately, on the way to Troy he was bitten by a snake, and the wound festered. It smelt so much that his shipmates left him marooned on the island of Lemnos, where he stayed till summoned later in the war.

Priam's prophecy plot! Trojan king calls horses of Rhesus to sip from Scamander! Spy Odysseus ruins river plan, steals steeds 
The Trojans had a prophecy which said that if the white horses belonging to King Rhesus drank from the nearby River Scamander, then Troy would be safe forever.  Unfortunately for Troy, Odysseus heard of this from a captured spy. He killed King Rhesus and sent the horses far away on a boat, so that they never came near the river and the prophecy remained unfulfilled.

Patroclus in armour swap! Heartbreak for Achilles as Hector butchers best boyfriend! Hero promises 'payback' for Trojan heir 
Achilles let his best friend Patroclus borrow his armour and go to fight, but regretted it terribly when Prince Hector of Troy slew his friend, mistakenly thinking he was Achilles.  He vowed to avenge his friend by killing the Trojan heir to the throne.

Heroes in sword smash ding-dong! Hector dead, dragged round Troy by triumphant Achilles! Sorrowful Priam begs for son's body 
Achilles and Hector fought, battling each other seven times round the city of Troy.  Achilles, having killed Hector, dragged his dead body around the walls, strung behind his war chariot. King Priam, Hector's father, had to beg Achilles to give his son's body back to him for burial - and Achilles made him pay Hector's weight in gold before he surrendered it to the grieving monarch.

Polyxena hatches poison plan! Arrow hits heel bullseye! Achilles' 'agonising death' as hero pierced by Paris's perfect shot!
Achilles had fallen in love with Hector's sister, Polyxena, who hated him for her brother's death.  She lured him into Troy, where Paris shot him in the mortal part of his heel with a poisoned arrow. Achilles died in agony.

Pongy Philoctetes returns! Bowman's bolt slays proud Paris! Love spell lifted, contrite Helen haunted by continuing conflict 
Philoctetes comes to Troy (very unwillingly, after the Greeks had treated him so shabbily) and shoots Paris dead.  This breaks the love spell Aphrodite set on Helen, and she suddenly realises what a terrible price has been paid for her love affair with Paris on both sides of the conflict.

'Luck of Troy' lifted! Odysseus steals sacred statue! Helen hopeful of imminent escape from surrounded city! Trojans tremble 
Disguised as a beggar, Odysseus sneaks into the city and steals the 'Luck of Troy' (a magical statue which protects the Trojans from harm), helped by a contrite Helen, who hopes to escape and go back to her husband Menelaus. When they discover its loss, the Trojans realise that they are doomed.

Fleet retreat! Wooden Horse 'miracle' cry triumphal Trojans! Hidden Greek heroes trigger trap, sack city in deadly dawn raid 
The Greek fleet disappears, leaving behind a giant wooden horse. The Trojans, thinking that the Greeks have gone home, pull the horse into the city and celebrate.  However, many of the Greek heroes (including Odysseus) are secreted inside the horse's belly, and when the Trojans are all asleep, they get out, open the gates, and let in the returned Greek army, which then sacks the city.

Conquered city 'blazing & burnt' ! Menelaus recovers stolen spouse from razed ruins! Penitent Helen hangs head, hugs hubby
Troy is on fire as Menelaus hunts for Helen through the ruins. He kills one of Hector's brothers to get to her, and the forgives her, saying that what happened was the will of the gods, and takes her back as his wife.

Prisoner priestess predicts doom! Cassandra 'gabbles gibberish' claims angry Ajax! Zeus hits hero with terminal thunderbolt 
Cassandra, princess of Troy has been taken captive by the hero Ajax.  She is a prophetess, but has been doomed by Apollo always to tell the truth, but never to be believed.  When she screams at Ajax that he will die by Zeus's hand if he makes her a slave, Ajax takes no notice, telling everyone she is talking nonsense and saying that he doesn't believe in the gods.  Zeus then proves him wrong by striking him with a deadly thunderbolt and killing him.

Odysseus loses luxury-loving crew to Lotus-Eaters! Sleepy sailors say 'sod off!' Crotchety captain lugs laggards aboard again 
The Odyssey begins with a visit to the land of the Lotus-Eaters, where some of Odysseus's crew fall under the spell of the pleasure-loving inhabitants, and fall into a sleep filled with beautiful dreams.  When Odysseus tries to get them to come back to the ship, they refuse, and he has to drag them away forcibly.

Hungry heroes in Polyphemus peril! Monster munches mariners! Odysseus hatches sly sheep scheme! Early escape cons Cyclops 
Odysseus's crew are hungry, and when they see an island with fat sheep grazing on it, they decide to have a feast. Unfortunately the sheep belong to the one-eyed Cyclops, Polyphemus, who traps the sailors in a cave and begins to eat them. Odysseus blinds the Cyclops and he and his men escape tied under the bellies of the sheep.

Circe whips out wand in porcine prank! Odysseus 'encourages' evil enchantress to reshape hoggish heroes! All-round relief 
Circe the Enchantress tempts Odysseus's sailors with a feast, and then turns them into pigs.  Odysseus, helped by Hermes, persuades her to change his men back again, and the sorceress concedes defeat.

Magic mist shrouds ship! 'No sneezing' says sorceress! Odysseus disobeys with triple 'atishoo' after Tartarus ghost trip! 
Circe surrounded Odysseus's ship with an enchanted mist, so that he would be protected from the sight of the gods who were against him.  The only proviso was that no one must sneeze three times in a row, or the spell would be broken.  After Odysseus had made a trip down to Tartarus to find out how long it would be before he got home, he sneezed three times, and was then seen by Zeus, who called on Poseidon to whip up a storm and drive the ship away from Ithaca again.

Wax-eared seamen row rapidly as Odysseus defies deadly Siren singers! Only man ever to escape winged women's wanton wiles! 
No sailor ever escapes the terrible Sirens, beautiful winged women with wonderful voices, who tempt ships onto the rocks.  Odysseus is determined to get past them, so has himself tied to the mast, and his sailors' ears stopped with wax. The plan works, and the angry Sirens go hungry as Odysseus and his ship sail past them safely.

6-headed Scylla swallows screaming sailors! Cruel Charybdis sinks ship in violent vortex! Odysseus 'only overboard escapee'
The terrible monster Scylla lives on top of a narrow sea passage between rocks.  Underneath lives the water sucking creature Charybdis.  When Odysseus's ship sails between the rocks, his sailors are all eaten, and his ship wrecked.  Odysseus himself only just escapes by clinging to a spar, and Zeus eventually takes pity on him and saves him.

Seven year itch hits homesick hero! Calypso's confinement 'irksome', objects upset Odysseus! Forlorn nymph bids fond farewell 
Odysseus is trapped on an island for seven years by the nymph Calypso, who loves him.  Eventually she is ordered by Zeus to let him go, and makes him a beautiful raft to sail away on.

Prim princess 'petrified' after bareass beachbum scare! Nausicaa grants garments to apologetic Odysseus! Hero heads homeward
Shipwrecked yet again by Poseidon, Odysseus ends up naked on a beach in Phaecia.  He is discovered by a shocked Princess Nausicaa, who, on discovering who he is, gives him clothes and a ship to take him home to Ithaca.

'My Hero Dad!' Tender reunion touches Telemachus! Odysseus vows vengeance on villains! Snooty suitors now 'dead men walking' 
Odysseus lands on Ithaca after twenty years away, and heads for the shepherd Eumaeus's hut, where he has a joyful reunion with his now grown-up son, Telemachus. Telemachus explains that, thinking his father is dead, many suitors are after his mother Penelope's hand in marriage, and are drinking, eating and generally behaving very badly in Odysseus's palace.  Odysseus vows to kill them all.

'Bend hubby's big bow!' Penelope deals out diabolical dare! Odysseus slaughters shocked suitors! Epic journey ends joyfully
Odysseus's wife, Penelope has been putting off her suitors for years by saying that she will only marry when she has finished the tapestry which she has been weaving by day and unpicking at night.  When they press her for a final date, she tells them that she will only marry the man who can bend her husband's enormous bow.  None of them can but the 'beggar' in the corner - Odysseus disguised - who then reveals himself and slaughters all the suitors. A happy reunion ensues, and Odysseus's long journey home from Troy is finally over.

Click HERE for Part 1: Myths 1-20 Creation to the Minotaur
Click HERE for Part 2: Myths 21-40 Endymion to Echo and Narcissus
Click HERE for Part 3: Myths 41-60 Artemis to Autolycus
Click HERE for Part 4: Myths 61-80 Death of Heracles to Odysseus's Call-up to the Trojan War

All these stories are told in more detail in my book

which was written for children, but also seems to be the 'ready reference' book of choice for many university Classics students.  It's available HERE

#TwitterFiction Festival: 100 Greek Myths in 100 Tweets (The Full Story 61-80)

Part 4 of my myth tweet epic...The Death of Heracles to Odysseus's call-up to the Trojan War

Wife duped by covetous centaur! Doubting Deianeira destroys hubby Heracles! Dead hero rises to Olympus! Hera in fuming fury 
Heracles' second wife, Deianeira is tricked by the evil dying centaur, Nessus, into taking a vial of his 'magic blood', which he says will show her if her husband is ever unfaithful. When Deianeira thinks she has cause to doubt Heracles' fidelity, she dips his robe into the blood, which is deadly poisonous, although she doesn't know this. Heracles dies in agony, but is taken up to Olympus by Zeus, to live there with the gods.  Hera throws a tantrum, but Zeus is immovable on the subject.

Snake Giants attack Gods! Chaos on Olympus! Shrewd scheme from hero Heracles saves doomed deities! Even hateful Hera happy
The reason Zeus needs Heracles on Olympus is that a prophecy has been made, saying that he will save the gods from disaster.  This proves true, when Heracles puts together a plan to defeat the terrible Snake Giants, who are attacking the deities (and winning). In the end, even Hera has to admit that he had done a good job, and gave him her daughter, Hebe, for a wife.  Heracles ended up as Gatekeeper to Olympus.

Sexist row over athlete Atalanta! Gutsy huntress WILL run with men, declares loyal lover Meleager! Teen's spear proves point 
Meleager arranges for a team of heroes to come and hunt the Calydonian Boar with him, but one of the hunters, Ancaeus, refuses to hunt with Atalanta, because she is female.  Meleager, who likes the young huntress, stands up for her and tells Ancaeus to go home if he doesn't like the decision.  Atalanta proves her point by drawing first blood from the boar with her arrow, and the boar eventually dies by Meleager's spear.

'Outrun me or die!' Bride in deadly dare! Melanion addles Atalanta with smart-alec apple drop! Speedy sprint scoops spouse 
Atalanta makes her father promise that any man who wishes to marry her must either beat her in a running race or die.  Melanion, who has fallen in love with her, doesn't want to die like the other princes who have lost her challenge, so he prays to Aphrodite. Aphrodite gives him three golden apples, telling him to drop one every time Atalanta tries to pass him in the race. Atalanta is successfully distracted, and Melanion wins both the race and the girl.

Princesses vs Muses! 'We simply sound sweeter' warble regal 9! Muses not amused! Shrill squawks from new royal magpie girls 
The nine daughters of King Pierus challenged the Muses to a song contest, saying that their voices were sweeter.  As soon as they began to sing, the Muses turned them into nine squawking magpies.

Death-defying Admetus does deal with tipsy Fates!  Alcestis thwarts Tartarus king in swap sacrifice! Hades 'not happy'
The Fates could not be bribed, but in the case of Admetus, they got drunk and promised Apollo that his friend should never die as long as he could find someone to got to Tartarus for him when the time came. Alcestis, Admetus's faithful wife, offered to go in his stead, and, although Hades was not happy about it, he was so impressed with her devotion that he sent her back to be with her husband on earth.

First Ever Murder! Ixion takes rap for fiery pit slaying! Killer pays price on flaming sky wheel! 'Justice served!' say gods
Ixion, the world's first murderer, slew his own father-in-law by deliberately tipping him into a pit full of fire, where he died. Zeus ordered Hermes to punish Ixion by tying him to a fiery wheel and rolling him around the sky.

Orpheus in romantic rescue! Makes epic error, looks back at Eurydice! Lovers torn apart in Tartarus tragedy! Heartbreaker Hermes 'uncaring' 
Orpheus, the world's best musician, was determined to rescue his dead lover, Eurydice, from the Underworld. Hades agreed to let her go on condition that Orpheus didn't once look back on the journey to see that she was following him.  He failed, and Eurydice was dragged back to Hades' realm by Hermes, who ignored both lovers' pitiful cries.

Helpful healer Asclepius courts wrath of Zeus! Banned Gorgon blood aids rogue resurrection bid! Death by lightning forecast 
Asclepius, taught to be a great healer by the centaur Chiron, starts to raise people from the dead with the help of a jar of Gorgon's blood. This makes Hades and the Fates angry, and Asclepius has to promise Zeus that he won't use it again. But Asclepius can't resist the pleas of a man whose son has just died, and resurrects him. Zeus then kills the healer with a lightning bolt.

Wedding woe of Peleus & Thetis! Goddess friction flares over Apple of Discord! Athene/Hera/Aphrodite in calamitous catfight
Eris, goddess of Discord has not been invited to the wedding of Peleus and Thetis, so decides to cause trouble. She rolls a golden apple marked 'To the Fairest' towards Hera, Aphrodite and Athene, who then quarrel as to which of them it is meant for.

Mum's ankle blunder seals baby Achilles' fate! Mortal heel 'will trip him up' predicts prophet. Tearful Thetis flees to sea 
Nereid Thetis is determined to make her latest son, Achilles, immortal.  She hangs him over a sacred fire, holding onto one ankle. Although she succeeds in making the baby mostly immortal, Peleus snatches the child away from her before she can finish. The ankle she was holding (his 'Achilles heel') is therefore not immortal and will prove to be the death of him in the end. Thetis is so angry with Peleus that she leaves him and goes back to the sea.

Hero ship sets out on epic voyage! Argo endures persistent perils! Captain Jason joyful as craft sails safely into Colchis 
Jason gathers together a crew of heroes to sail his ship, Argo, to Colchis to steal the Golden Fleece.  On the way there, the Argonauts have many adventures, meeting Harpies, clashing rocks and much more.

Jason overcomes army of obstacles! Hero swoops on stolen sheep swag! Medea's magic aids evening escape! Golden Fleece 'gone' 
Jason is set a series of impossible tasks by the King of Colchis, including sowing a field with dragon's teeth - which sprout up as an army of stone soldiers.  With the help of Medea, the king's witch-daughter, he completes the tasks, evades the stone soldiers, and steals the magical Golden Fleece, sailing the Argo out of Colchis on the evening tide.

Tug-of-love boy is Aphrodite's Adonis! Persephone snubbed as handsome hunk 'prefers Olympus'!  Boar gore ends gigolo's life 
Aphrodite hides baby Adonis in a chest and takes him down to the Underworld, giving it to Persephone to keep safe.  When Persephone hears a cry from the chest, she takes out Adonis and brings him up as her own child.  Some years later, Aphrodite visits, falls in love with Adonis, and takes him with her to Olympus, which he much prefers to Hades' gloomy realm.  Persephone is deeply hurt by his rejection, after all her care, and sends a white boar to gore Adonis to death when he is out hunting.

Cowherd woos nymph in raunchy romance! 'Paris is my prince!' gushes infatuated Oenone! Gods interrupt pastoral paradise 
Oenone falls in love with a disguised Prince Paris of Troy, and he with her.  But the gods intervene in their romance, knowing that Paris has another destiny.

Paris in challenging choice! Goddesses make decision 'difficult'! 'Have Helen' coos artful Aphrodite in unbeatable offer 
The golden apple has caused discord between the goddesses, and Aphrodite, Athene and Hera want a decision made as to which of them is the fairest (see above).  They choose Paris, and each promises a great gift if he chooses them.  Aphrodite promises that he can have the great beauty Helen of Sparta for his own - and Paris picks the goddess of love as the fairest of them all, with dire consequences.

'It's Menelaus for me' says star-eyed Helen! Greek Kings swear to shield Spartan sweetie forever! 'Witnessed!' thunders Zeus 
Helen of Sparta chooses King Menelaus as her husband, and he makes all the kings of Greece swear to protect and defend her from all foes.  The gods witness the promise - but the kings themselves hope they'll never have to keep it.

Eros arrows pierce Helen with passion for prince! Paris swipes Spartan Queen! Mortified Menelaus leads launch of 1000 ships 
Aphrodite keeps her promise to Paris and sends her son Eros to pierce Helen of Sparta with his arrows of love, and make her fall for the prince instead of her husband.  Paris steals the smitten queen away to Troy, and Menelaus calls up all the kings to go to war to reclaim her from the Trojans, launching a fleet of 1000 ships.

Iphigenia sacrifices self as sin scapegoat! Winds whirl ships out of Aulis! 'Trojans beware!' trumpets aggressive Agamemnon 
Menelaus was all ready to sail out with his great fleet from the harbour at Aulis, but the winds were against them because Agamemnon had offended the goddess Artemis. The only way for Agamemnon to change this was to sacrifice his daughter, Iphigenia.  The princess offered herself on the sacrificial altar, and the winds immediately blew in a favourable direction. The ten year Trojan War had begun!

Mad or mendacious? Odysseus ploughs sand in risky ruse to avoid call-up! Menelaus bests clever King with sneaky son strategy 
Odysseus did not want to keep his vow to King Menelaus, so he pretended to be mad by ploughing a beachful of sand when the call-up came. Menelaus snatched his baby son, Telemachus, from the arms of his mother and laid him down in front of the plough, at which point Odysseus gave in and said he would come to Troy.

Click HERE for Part 1: Myths 1-20 Creation to the Minotaur
Click HERE for Part 2: Myths 21-40 Endymion to Echo and Narcissus
Click HERE for Part 3: Myths 41-60 Artemis to Autolycus
Click HERE for Part 5: Myths 81-100 Philoctetes to Odysseus's Return to Ithaca (the whole Iliad and Odyssey)

Anyone who is interested in finding out more can do so in my book,

which was written for children, but also seems to be the 'ready reference' book of choice for many university Classics students.  It's available HERE

#TwitterFiction Festival: 100 Myths in 100 Tweets (The Full Story 41-60)

Part 3 of my manic myth tweet marathon...Artemis to Autolycus

'Nobody sees me naked!' Angry Artemis chases speechless stagboy in fatal hunt! Hounds tear Actaeon apart for pervy peeking
Actaeon the hunter sees virgin goddess Artemis bathing in a woodland pool. He flees, knowing that no man may see the goddess naked, but she gives chase, turns him into a stag, and has him torn apart by her hounds as his punishment.

Syrinx flees priapic Pan! Smutty goat god in sordid sex romp! 'Let's make sweet music!' he leers as nymph turns to reeds
Nymph Syrinx, on her way home from Mount Cronus, is chased to the river's edge by the randy goat god, Pan.  She flees, unwilling to become his lover, and is turned into a bunch of reeds by the river spirits.  Hearing the wind whistling through them, Pan plucks the reeds and turns them into his famous Pan Pipes, so that Syrinx can sing to him forever.

Nyx girls 'weave own dooms'! 3 Fates ply spindle, thread, scissors! Bribe rumours 'unfounded' says incorruptible Atropos
Nyx, Goddess of Night, lets three stars fall to earth. These turn into the Fates - three women, Clotho, Atropos and Lachesis - who weave mankind's destiny into their great tapestry with spindle, thread and scissors. They could not be influenced, either by gods or by men. 

'Kindly Ones' rise in bloodstained earth birth! Snake-haired Furies wield whips on world's wicked! Motto:'Vengeance is Ours'
The Furies - snake-haired women with copper wings and whips - were born from three drops of Ouranos' blood, which soaked into the earth round Mount Cronus. They hunted down the wicked and punished them. So terrifying were they, that both gods and humans tried to placate them (and avoid their attention) by naming them The Kindly Ones.

Sly stableboy slays king in waxed waggon wheel fiasco. Olympic Games will be 'Dad's undying legacy' vows brave Hippodamia
Princess Hippodamia wanted to marry Prince Pelops as soon as she saw him, but first he had to win a race against her father's magic horses.  She wanted to give her lover an advantage, so bribed a stableboy to make her father's chariot slower.  Unfortunately the stableboy had a grudge against the king, and sabotaged it, killing him.  Pelops executed the stableboy, and together, he and Hippodamia founded the Olympic Games in her father's memory.

Snakes in Cradle Mystery! Baby Heracles strangles serpents with own tiny fists! Chief suspect Hera says 'No effin' comment'
The goddess Hera had a grudge against Heracles from the minute he was born, because his mother had had an affair with Zeus.  She sent two venomous snakes to kill him in his cradle, and was furious when the future hero strangled them and threw them onto the floor.

Heracles in daring cattle swoop! Steals Geryon's prize cows, kills 3-headed giant! Sails herd to Tiryns! Task 1 completed 
Hera sent Heracles mad, and he committed the dreadful sin of uxoricide, also killing his children. To pay for this, Hera made him complete a series of impossible tasks, and gave Heracles' cousin, King Eurystheus of Tiryns (who also hated him) the job of overseeing them. In this one, he had to steal the Cattle of the Sun from a three-headed Giant, and get them back to Tiryns in a year and a day.

Heracles in pongy poo mission! Palace Stables 'cleaner than a virgin's arse' says a delighted King Augeias! Task 2 completed
The Augeian Stables hadn't been cleaned for 20 years, and were stinking out the city of Elis. Heracles cleaned them by diverting the course of 2 rivers, and King Augeias was so delighted that he threw a feast for the hero.

Heracles battles bristly Boar of Erymanthia! Pig 'too scary' for pet says Eurystheus from oil jar hideaway! Task 3 completed 
Eurystheus was a coward at heart, so when Heracles brought him the terrifying Erymanthian Boar, the king jumped into a bronze jar and hid.  Unfortunately the jar was half full of olive oil.

Heracles in year-long deer chase! Captured Golden Hind 'ornament to Palace grounds' says King's Gardener! Task 4 completed 
Heracles spent a year chasing the golden deer of Cerynaiea, which belonged to Artemis.  Eurystheus was delighted, and commanded that it should be let loose in the palace gardens, where it was much admired.  However, it didn't stay there long, jumping the fence and running back to Artemis.

'Fiery Bull Out of Control!' exclaims Cretan Times! Hero Heracles dowses blazing bovine, tows it to Tiryns! Task 5 completed
King Minos of Crete asked Heracles to come and deal with a fire-breathing bull which was terrorising the island.  Heracles conquered it, and swam back to Tiryns, towing it behind him, and gave it to Hera's temple priestesses.

Heracles in horsey horror! Man-Eater Mares munch on murderous monarch! Eurystheus bans petrifying new pets! Task 6 completed
Heracles was sent to steal the man-eating mares belonging to King Diomedes of Thrace. The king decided to feed Heracles to his hungry horses, but was himself fed to them when Heracles found out his plan.  Heracles took them back to Tiryns, whereupon a trembling Eurystheus commanded that they should be locked in the strongest stable.

Heracles trounces fearsome feline! Nemean Lion no more!  Hero models 'Invincible Lionskin Armour' look! Task 7 completed 
The Nemean Lion had skin which could not be pierced by any weapon, so Heracles had to strangle it to death. He skinned it with its own sharp claws, and made invincible armour for himself out of its pelt.

Heracles in Golden Apple raid! Crafty champ tricks thick Titan! Dragon duped! King E forbids fatal fruit! Task 8 completed 
Heracles was commanded to bring Eurystheus 3 golden apples from Hera's garden at the end of the world. These were guarded by a fierce dragon. Heracles persuaded Atlas, the Titan who held up the heavens, to get them for him. Atlas agreed, if Heracles would take on his burden while he did it. When Atlas came back, he was going to run off and leave Heracles. However, Heracles played a trick on him, asking the Titan to take back the heavens while he scratched his nose.  In the end, Eurystheus made Heracles give the apples back to Athene in the end, as they were so dangerous to have around.

Heracles attracts amorous Amazon! Hippolyta hands hero gorgeous girdle! Admete's verdict? Fashion failure! Task 9 completed 
Eurystheus ordered Heracles to go and get a present for his spoilt daughter, Admete. Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons admired Heracles' strength so much that she gave him her magic girdle for the girl.  However when Admete saw the girdle, she took it, but didn't think it was a good enough gift.

Heracles battles hostile Hydra. Freaky fiend loses heads, grows more! Hero victorious, Hera furious! Task 10 completed 
Hera ordered Heracles to fight her poisonous nine-headed monster, the Hydra, which lived in a stinking swamp at Lerna, thinking that he would never beat it. However, with the help of his friend Iolaus, Heracles killed the beast.  Hera was beside herself with rage that the hero was not dead instead.

Heracles alerted to alarming avians! Bronze feathers 'cause carnage'! Stymphalian Birds routed by rattles! Task 11 completed 
A flock of ferocious birds were terrorising the people of Stymphalus, so Heracles was despatched to deal with them.  His arrows were no use in piercing the birds' bronze feathers, so he used a loud rattle to drive them away across the sea.

Heracles in head-2-head over grisly Guardian! Cerberus in chains! 'The End!' beams happy hero! Hera in huff! Tasks complete 
Heracles' final task was to steal Cerberus, the three-headed dog guardian of the Underworld. Hades agreed to this, provided Heracles beat the beast in a fair fight.  A victorious Heracles hauled Cerberus all the way to Tiryns, where Eurystheus took one look and ran to hide in his jar, where he stayed for a year.  Cerberus had to be taken back to the Underworld, and Hera was furious that Heracles had completed all his tasks successfully, but could do nothing more about it.

Pegasus 'Prince of Ponies' says blissful Bellerophon! Feathery steed & hero in fatal flying strike on scary Chimaera! 
Prince Bellerophon prays to Athene for help in defeating the Chimaera, a goat-headed, fire-breathing beast which is terrorizing Lycia.  Athene gives him Pegasus, the winged horse born from the Gorgon Medusa's blood.  Together they attack the beast, the horse hovering above while Bellerophon sticks a lead-tipped lance down its throat, killing it instantly.
Sisyphus in canny cattle ruse! Thief Autolycus trapped by trail of stolen steers! 'Evidence overwhelming!' rules judge 
Sisyphus Sharp-Eyes is having his cattle stolen by the thief Autolycus, son of Hermes.  The cunning King carves 'Stolen by Autolycus' into each remaining cow's front hoof, and when they are taken, he follows the marked trail to the robber's hideaway, catching him red-handed.

Click HERE for Part 1: Myths 1-20 Creation to the Minotaur
Click HERE for Part 2: Myths 21-40 Endymion to Echo and Narcissus
Click HERE for Part 4: Myths 61-80 Death of Heracles to Odysseus's Call-Up for the Trojan War
Click HERE for Part 5: Myths 81-100 Philoctetes to Odysseus's Return to Ithaca (the whole Iliad and Odyssey)

Once again, this is for those who have asked to see my entire #twitterfiction offering in one place, with a very simple expanded explanation.  Anyone who wants even more detail can find it in my book,

which was written for children, but also seems to be the 'ready reference' book of choice for many university Classics students.  It's available HERE

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