Sunday, November 4, 2012

NaNoWriMo 2012, explanation and excerpt

Yeah, I'm doing it again, well behind already, but as of yesterday if I keep up at my average pace I'll at least finish by the end of the year.  (The very last day of this year.  This is an improvement.)

For those who don't know NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month.  National is an anachronism, it's international.  Novel is loosely defined.  Writing is, at least in my case, replaced with typing.  Month means that if you haven't hit 50,000 words by the end of the month you lose.

This year I decided to write a coherent form of the Greek and Roman creation myth.  If you know anything about Greek or Roman myth you know how difficult this will prove to be.  It's like everyone has six sets of parents, each attested somewhere, and the stories come in so many versions that ... well lets just say that even if you're dealing with the same author talking about the same events (looking at you Sophocles) you're going to get three versions.

I'm using Hesiod as my touchstone, and everything else to fill in the gaps.

Trouble is that Hesiod, in the Theogany at least (need to reread Works and Days) has a habit of grouping creations by creators.  For example there's a section where he lists the pathenogenic children of Nyx as if the entire universe sat around watching her give birth to child after child so that they could have their turn to breed, then Nyx never had a child again.  It wouldn't work that way, and some of the children don't even make sense unless mortals have already come into the world, which can't happen until Iapetos and Klymene get together because it is their son Prometheus who creates the mortals.  Iapetos and Klymene don't get together until almost 300 lines after the parthenogeic children of Nyx are listed.  And I have no idea when Klymene was even born.

I think I'm going to be spending today sitting down and working out a timeline.

It's not that I have anything against grouping like things together -I don't want to scatter the names of the 50 Nereides throughout the work, much easier to put them all in one list- but several of Nyx's children are very specifically mortal-related, so in her case it makes more sense to spread out her children as she has them so that they don't seem to predate mortals.  Thus: timeline.

Now then, I promised an excerpt, so here is an excerpt.  I'm trying to stick generally with the Greek spellings but with C instead of K, but then when I came to "Ker" it seemed like such a K kind of a word so I may have to revisit that thinking.  (Recall that this is a first draft.)


In the beginning there was Chaos. Neither something nor nothing but an indescribable swirling mass of possibility and probability. There were no rules or laws, no restrictions, no borders. There was nothing, and yet at the same time there was everything, for Chaos did not merely lack form but contained all forms.

And it was from this mass of possibility and contradiction that sprang forth Gaia, the earth, fully formed. For there were not yet rules or restrictions to stop gods, or planets, or god-planets, from coming into existence on their own. The Fates had not yet been born. Before that day there was only Chaos, then, in an instant, there were Chaos and Gaia. Gaia, the firm foundation on which all would be built.

She was not a thing of possibility or probability, but a being of is. She was, and so was the first being that could be truly be said to fully be. She was solid and slow to change. Not a swirling mass of probability, but a solid foundation of stone.

Following her other gods burst forth into being, uncreated, for there were still no rules.

Misty Tartaros took his place beneath Gaia, and golden winged Eros, who would be love but knew not yet, took flight above her.

Erebos, the darkness that resides in misty Tartaros, and black winged Nyx, night herself, were next to spring forth. It was in these two that Eros found his purpose, creating the universe's first love. Erebos and Nyx mated, and soon something entirely new came into being.

Aether, the upper air, and Hemera, the day, were the first created beings, born to Nyx through the pregnancy her mating with Erebos brought upon her. In bringing together Erebos, the darkness of misty Tartaros, and Nyx, night herself, Eros has created not just the first love, but also the first pregnancy, the first birth, and the first light.

Shining Hemera was the first to shed light on anything, but in addition to that something new had come into being. Eros had found the meaning of his existence, as love. Nyx had become the first mother, Erebos the first father. Hemera the first daughter. Aether the first son. Together they formed the first family.

Aether was, by his nature as the upper air, forced to stay apart from his father, Erebos, the darkness of misty Tartaros. Aether was only able to interact with his father second hand, via his mother Nyx or his sister Hemera. Meanwhile black winged Nyx taught her daughter Hemera to cover Gaia, as Nyx herself had often done. The mother and daughter played many games and soon the cycle of night and day began with the eternal game of tag between two. Twice daily they would meet: at the changing of day to night, and night to day.

Gaia, having learned that it was possible to give birth, but having no love to mate with, bore on her own starry Ouranos, the sky, to encompass her.

Then she bore the Ourea, the mountains, most of whose names have been forgotten with time, as they no longer sing as they once did. At this time she had not yet brought forth Pontus, the barren sea, and so the Nesoi, the islands, and the Ourea were one, living together as sisters and brothers.

The names of the Ourea that are remembered are but a handful: Atnea, one of the few females not to become a Nesos either with the creation of Pontos or when Poseidon threw most of the remaining female Ourea into the sea making them Nesoi, Athos, Cithaeron, who contested his brother Helicon in song, Helicon himself, on whom the Musai made their home, two named Olympos, one the seat of the gods - the other constantly explaining that he's not his brother, Oreios, Seilonos Nysos, hidden from mortals but dwelling near Cithaeron he would become nurse and attendant to Dionysos, Parnes, who spoke at the supposed wedding of Zeus and Plataia (intended to bring Hera back through jealousy), and Tmolos, where Apollo and Pan once held a musical contest. Whether the names of other Ourea are their true names, or names given to them by human beings is long since forgotten.

Of the Nesoi fewer names are remembered still, Delos, the most famous and revered Nesos, was not born to Gaia and did not yet exist. Those from this time whose names are remembered are Cos, where Polybotes was killed by Posiedon, Phoenician Cyrnos, Abantian Macris of the Ellopians, and Sardo, first colonized by Norax son of Hermes and Erytheia, and Cypros, where Aphrodite first emerged from the water. For the rest, is possible that the names still used are their real names but whether that is true has been lost to the tides of time.

Finally Gaia birthed Pontos, the then barren ocean, to fill her depressions and level out her surface. It was then that the first Nesoi separated from the Ourea.

All these she gave birth to without ever knowing love, but golden winged Eros, had not forgotten her. As he flew between Gaia and newly created Ouranos he saw fit to draw them together in love.

It was at this time that the first rules began to form, though none recognized it at the time, too caught up were they in their own affairs.

Mating, pregnancy, and birth became the way new beings entered the world, no longer did they spring forth from Chaos on their own. (At least, nothing big, and not when anyone was looking.) Indeed, as more beings had sprung from it, Chaos itself had been diminished, and where once it was all there had been, now it was pushed into ever smaller and smaller cracks. The gaps which were left between the new gods and the places none were looking.

Even pregnancy without mating, so recently practiced by Gaia, would be largely unheard of in the ages to follow. It would be reserved only for the very small and for special cases such as Hephaestus and the lizards of the whipping tail.

The age of mating, pregnancy, and birth had begun and has not ended yet.

What began when Eros first joined night herself and the darkness of misty Tartoros to create the upper air and day, was enshrined as natural law when Gaia mated with Ouranos.

Of these couplings Gaia bore the Titans first.


First deep eddying Oceanos, from whom all fresh water descends and who with Pontos would give rise to the currents and differences that we know in the deep today. Then she bore Coios and Creios, Hyperion and Iapetos, Theia and Rheia, Themis and Mnemosyne, gold crowned Phoibe and lovely Tethys.

Last of all she bore Chronos, time, strong and brash. He looked upon his father Ouranos with hate and envy.

Eros set to work bringing these new gods together.

He drew Oceanos, the oldest male, and Tethys, the youngest female toward each other. Their joining would create all rivers, springs, streams, and clouds.

He drew together Hyperion, light, and Theia, sight. Their joining would create the great lights of the sky by which mortals see. Theia also watched over Nyx's son Aether.

He began to draw together Coios and shining Phoibe.

But before anything could come of these joinings, and before any more could be made, Ouranous and Gaia gave these new gods gained new siblings, Brontes, thunder, Serteropes, lightning, and strong-spirited Arges, the lightning's flash. These three resembled the other gods in all ways but one: each had a single eye. So they were known as Cyclopes. Their deeds would be defined by strength and inventiveness. But not yet.

For their father, disgusted with them, shoved them back inside of Gaia, where they were trapped in the mists of Tartaros.

Though disgusted with is new children, Ouranos did not stop mating with Gaia. She again produced triplets. So powerful and terrible that many think their names are best left unspoken, but if that were to happen their names might be lost, as so many other names have been. They were the Hecatonceires, the hundred handed ones, and their names were Cottos, rancor, Briarios, stout, and Gyes, of the land. From each one's shoulders sprouted one hundred arms, and each had no less than fifty heads. Ouranous immediately shoved them back into Gaia, where their only companions would the Cyclopes. They Cyclopes as well as Erebos and misty Tartaros, in which they dwelt.

Gaia had had enough, and so she formed a plan. From her depths she fashioned something new, not a god but a tool. A sickle made of iron. She brought it to her free children and demanded that they punish Ouranous for his deeds. Eleven of her free children were made silent by fear, but Chronos quickly spoke, “I will do it,” he said, “For I hate my father and it was he who first acted shamefully.”

Gaia's heart filled with joy for her imprisoned children, but she did not notice that Chronos had said nothing about freeing his siblings; only hating his father.

So it was that an ambush was planned, Ouronos came with night, as was his custom, and, when he prepared to mate with Gaia, Chronos lept forth grabbing his father with one hand and the sickle with the other.

He chopped off his father's genitals.

He tossed them behind him and the tossing proved fruitful.

Where blood from the deed dropped on Gaia, new gods were born. The Erinyes, the Furies, Alecto, unceasing, Tisiphone, murder retribution, and Megaira, grudge, came to being in this way. As did the giants, who sprang forth fully formed, fully armored, and fully armed. Their spears gleamed in the light of Ouranos, the starry sky, from whose blood they had formed.

These were the Curetes and Dactyli of Ida. The two mingled to such a degree that it is no longer remembered which is which. Their names were Damnameneus, the Subduer of metal, Celmis, the Driver On, Scythes, the Scythian, Delas, the Baiter, Idaios, the one of Mount Ida, Pyrrhichos, the War or Fire-Dance, Corybas (probably not one of the Dactyli), the Corybantic Dance, Prymneus, the Steersman, Mimas, the Imitator, Acmon, the Untiring, Ocythoos, the Swift-Footed, Melisseus, the Honey Man, Heracles of Ida, the Glory of Air, Paionaios, the Reliever, Epimedes, the Smiling, Iasios, the Healer, Titas, the Avenger, and Cyllenos, the one of Mount Cyllene.

Five of them were Dactyli, the rest Curetes. The five Dactyli had five sisters, the Hecaterides, named for their adopted father Hecateros. No one knows where Hecateros came from. Perhaps he sprang from still remaining Chaos when no one was looking.

The Dactyli and Hecaterides married each other, and the Hecaterides bore the first Satyroi, and the first Oreiades, nymphs of the mountain. But not the first nymphs because elsewhere Ouranos' blood had landed on Gaia and brought into being the first Meliai, nymphs of the ash tree.

Ouranous' discarded genitals, thrown into the deep, started a frothing foam from which was born Aphrodite. She first came into being near Cythera, but it was at Cyprus that she first stepped from the waves. Thus both islands claim her as their own. Thus they call her Cyheria and Cyprogenesis. She is also sometimes called Philommedes, fond of man's genitals, because she was spawned from them.

When she first stepped foot upon land grass sprang up to cushion her steps and she was met by Eros, second oldest of the gods that had never known birth. In her he sensed a kindred spirit. An adult from her creation, and already pregnant with twins, she stayed for a time on Cyprus to birth and raise them. One she named after her new found companion: Eros, love. The other she named Himeros, desire.

Though the elder Eros, for whom she named her first born, had been bringing love for generations, it is said that love sweet as honey, and it's joyful pleasures, and the smiles, whispers, and deception that can go with it, are all in her domain and have been from her creation.


High above the gods wrought through his dismemberment, Ouranos cursed his free children, naming them Titans, overreachers, he predicted that they would be brought down, and their injustice against him avenged. No words from his railing against the Titans survive, nor does any record of how many days it lasted for, but all who lived on Gaia or in the air above her heard it.

Some say that this is why Nyx chose to break with natural law, and bear children without mating first. Having seen what a child who was only half his had done to Ouranos, she decided to only have children that were fully her own. Others believe it was because, since Ouranos had closed off the way to Tartaros to imprison the Cyclopes and the Hecatoncheires, Nyx simply could not reach her love Erebos. Still others think that Nyx, not being a giant, was able to infiltrate Tartaros to lie with Erebos and the belief that she bore children without his help is simply wrong.

Whatever the case, and whatever the reason, Nyx bore an impressive number of children. First hated Moros, doom, and darkest Ker, violent death. Then she gave birth to some more pleasant offspring, Thanatos, peaceful death, his twin brother Hypnos, sleep, and the first Oneiroi, dreams. In times to come the sons of Hypnos would be numbered amoung the Oneiroi, including Morpheus, the most famous of the Oneiori. But for now Hypnos had yet to breed. He'd only just come into being.

Nyx, then birthed Momos, blame, and dreadful Oizys, misery, but then she gave birth to the beautiful Hesperides, goddesses of the evening, about whom no one has ever said an unkind word. The sweet voiced kindhearted nymphs would one day be entrusted with guarding a tree of golden apples that Gaia gifted to Hera as a wedding present on an island beyond Oceanus. Their names were Aigle, Radiance, Erytheia, Red, Hesperethousa, Evening-Swift, Hesperie, Evening, Chrysothemis, Golden Custom, Lipara, Perseverence, Asterope, Starry-Faced.


[Rewriting Greek Myth Index]

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