Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Sometimes Greek myths are deep, and sometimes they're asparagus

I've mentioned my love of Who's Who in Greek and Roman Mythology before. Seriously, this was one of my favorite books when I was a kid and definitely when I was in the fifth grade, so I try not to judge too harshly when one of my sons wants to read things like Minecraft and Pokemon guides.

When I was in the fifth grade, I was drawn to the big ticket items in classical mythology, namely the Pantheon, the demigods and the major kings and queens. But even some of the "bit players" didn't escape my attention. Some of the stories, however short, make you feel like you've been punched in the gut.

To wit, Caenis:

Daughter of Elatus and Hippea, and the sister of Polyphemus and Ischys. Raped by Poseidon. (It's funny how often he, Apollo and Hermes show up in stories being rapists. The god you might expect to be the most likely to rape? Ares. However, so far I've only seen him in one story featuring a rape- and that was when he killed the rapist of his daughter Alcippe. The rapist? Halirrothius- son of Poseidon. Go figure.) To make up for the rape, Poseidon agreed to grant Caenis any wish. Her wish? To be turned into a man, henceforth known as Caeneus. Caeneus went on to father a child named Coronus, and died because he offended Zeus (always a lousy idea, but perhaps forgiven after what happened with Poseidon?). He was buried under pine trees, and then changed into a bird.

So much about power and sex in that story...no matter what Caeneus received from Poseidon, Caenis was dead.

But then, flipping through the pages, I come across this:

Melanippus, son of Theseus and Perigune (which baby mama was that again?). Father of Ioxus, ancestor of the Ioxids.

Ioxids?

Ioxus, son of Melanippus (another poor, motherless child). Ancestor of the Ioxids. And then...."The Ioxids held the asparagus to be sacred, a cult started by Perigune."


Asparagus Tip
What does this vegetable have to do with a family of serial killers? Let's ask Greek Mythology!
 Perigune!

Perigune, daughter of Sinis, mother of Melanippus by Theseus. Started the Asparagus cult.

*blinks* And who was Sinis?

Sinis, son of Damastes aka Procrustes and Sylea. Nicknamed Pitocamptes or "Pine Bender" because he would tie victims to the tops of pine trees and catapult them into the air. Theseus, in his tour of cleaning up the countryside, killed him the same way.

Damastes, nicknamed Procrustes or "The Stretcher", invited people into his house and made sure they fit the bed exactly. If too tall, he'd cut off their legs; if too short, he'd stretch them. Theseus, our hero, gave this guy the same treatment.

(And you people wonder why I don't need to watch horror movies.)

Er, who was Sylea, the grandmother of the Asparagus-loving Perigune? (And was she crazy too?)

Sylea, daughter of Corinthus, mother of Sinis...

Corinthus, King of Corinth (wow, psycho outlaw is a big step down for Sylea then!). Son of Marathon, Father of Sylea. Because he didn't have any sons, his rule of Corinth passed to Medea and Jason. (We can feel bad for poor Sylea- until we contemplate that her husband and son were sadistic serial killers. And...huh. Medea was Theseus' stepmother for a little while.)

Well, okay, let's climb out of the Greek version of hillbilly psychos...who was Marathon?

Marathon, son of Epopeus and Ephyraea, father of Corinthus.

Epopeus, king of Asopia...evidently without parents worth noting. (Same for his wife Ephyraea.)
Which leads me to wonder: is Asopia on the path that Theseus used to get to Athens? And more importantly, do they grow asparagus there? And, oh yeah, is this story of serial killers and the brute who killed them better or worse than the one about the girl who was raped by a god?

These and other light thoughts brought to us by the Ancient Greeks. Good morning!