Nigella damascena (love-in-a-mist, ragged lady) is an annual garden flowering plant, belonging to the buttercup family Ranunculaceae. It is native to southern Europe (but adventive in more northern countries of Europe), north Africa and southwest Asia, where it is found on neglected, damp patches of land.

The specific epithet damascena relates to Damascus in Syria. The plant’s common name comes from the flower being nestled in a ring of multifid, lacy bracts. It is also sometimes called devil-in-the-bush. (from Wikipedia)

At the end of Psykhe’s trials, for a brief time She became lost in the mashlands, wandering and abandoning hope of returning to Eros’ crystal castle, much less finding favour with Him or His oldest friend, Aphrodite, again. Then She saw the flower and recognised it as one of Eros’. Psykhe asked a nearby bird where it came from, and the bird replied that they grew from her Father’s tears, and Psykhe then realised that She must not be far from the home of Her husband, for tears never scatter far from where they originate.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Star Gazers #1246

Leonid Meteor Shower! The Nemean Lion is going to jizz all over!

Woah, I just unintentionally reminded myself of this picture:

Story of the Leonid Meteor Shower:

At Olympos, Herakles showed His various items to the other Theoi and Hemitheoi, and when Eros saw the skin of the lion, He seized it and put it on.

“Who told you that you could kill it? They belong to My wars, they protect My cities.”

“I had to. To redeem myself.”

“Your redemption laid in removing the people from immediate danger, your kill order was from mortal tongue.”

“How do you suppose I should have down that, then, without killing it? This particular cat was enormous, monsterous; some believe it was born of the Khimaira, some of those who do are even your Thespians. The beast was out of control, it had to be done, and Your pet, the Most Honourable Hera, even put it amongst the stars.”

Taken aback, Hera smiled wryly at Eros and suggested, “Why don’t you give the infant his robe back, now? He’s only been Immortal a very short time; he doesn’t understand the etiquette.”

Eros removed the skin, but before handing it back, slammed the jaw on the head shut, knocking its teeth out, then cast them from the Olympian palace, one at a time. From Earth, the argument translated as a sprinkle of meteors from the centre of the Leo constellation.

“I may be small, Theban half-breed, but don’t dare challenge me. You will not win.”

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Athene & the Elephant

(This just sort of came to me a couple days or so ago, and so I wrote it down. As best as i can tell, I can’t connect it to ancient ideas and [dare I say?] beliefs, so take this as you will. Though, by sheer coincidence, just before posting this, I took a chance on a search for ‘elephant athena”, and found this –interesting, eh?)

Hermes watched carefully as Alexandros of Makedon followed his own gilded thread of fate into India, and just then, Athene peered over His shoulder.

“Ah, my sister, I was just watching, wondering if he was going to make it. It is better than a play, to me.”

“The Dread Sisters are never wrong, though. I hear that even if They ever are, They have ways of fixing it so that only the Protogonoi would know, and few Olympians would ever suspect.”

“It’s still fun to watch, when I haven’t anything better to do. It’s like the mortals with their mythology, telling Our stories, even the same way, and knowing how it’s going to end, well, watching it on stage is different from knowing the outline of the plot.”

“Fair enough, dear half-brother.” She took down Her helmet and adjusted a pin holding her hair together. “So, when Our people make contact with the Hindu people, they’re going to make some associations.”

“When will they learn that other gods are individuals?”

“They feel it’s complimentary, Hermes. ‘The Gods of Hellas are the Gods of civilisation,’ ergo, even civilised people outside of Hellas worship the same Gods, just with local names. Or so goes the logic, at least.”

“This political turn is starting to bore me. Which animals only previously know to the Hindu people do you want?”

Without hesitation, Athene pointed to the elephant.

“Oh, that’s not what I expected. I mean, the owl is stealthy and patient, and it hunts. That pachyderm is big and tramples the foliage, and all it eats is foliage. It was also relatively easy for them to tame.”

“This is all true, but it’s certainly the wisest creature on this continent, after mankind.”

“And you say so, because?”

“It’s tamed because it wanted to be. It’s big, but only violent when provoked beyond reason, because it knows that’s the only time it needs violence. In the wild, when it is allowed to behave naturally, it is the only beast that truly knows to honour the gift of life the gods have given all tribes of man and beasts –just look.”

Athene pointed Hermes to a small tribe of elephants in the jungle, carefully having laid a burial mound over their matriarch, now stood vigil. Infants of the pack wailed -like Greek women at a funeral. Each animal waited its turn to take a little water before returning to the three day vigil among the elephant burial grounds. She then pointed out another pack of elephants outside a small village in Africa, in a region of the continent yet unexplored by Hellenes; the village had just been visited by a fearsome storm, and a man and his dog who had been unshielded by a house, lay dead, and the elephants covered him with a burial, out of respect.

“It’s a simple form of religion,” the grey-eyed and unowned one pointed out, “but for a creature so far from man’s genetic material, they have been granted the wisdom to know the gods, and so not only do I favour them, but I believe our father will, as well.”

“But what gods do they honour?”

Athene thought for a moment, and then suggested, “they clearly honour the gods of the earth, and of intelligence. They cannot speak the names of these gods, so they could never ask the gods their names. They know only some basic vocabulary of any language of man, so formulating a question on paper or in the mind is outside their abilities. They therefore honour whatever gods will accept them. The Hindu people treat them with honour, so those amongst the Hindu honour Hindu gods. Those there, amongst the Maasai, if the elephant is tame, it worships the Maasai people’s gods. Why should they be any different from human beings? There are several species of elephant, with dozens of tribes, each.”

“You were able to see all that?”

“Of course. My vision is finely attuned to scouting out the wisest creatures, and the wisdom of these creatures is like the brilliance of the sun when compared to the twinkle of a star.”

“Stars are really whole galaxies, just as the humans see them from Gaia, you know?” Hermes pointed out.

Athene slapped the back of His head in that sisterly way, and said, “I know that. It’s the metaphor that’s important —and you know that, too,”

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The Story of Britannia and Hibernia

In Hyperborea1, there are many deities whose mythos were unknown to the ancients, or whose tales were lost to time. This version is only one that may be revealed to people both ancient and of today’s age.

In the journeys of Herakles, He once layed with Keltine, daughter of the king Bretannus, and bore the Divine Goddesses Britannia (Prydein) and Hibernia *Ériu), and the other gods and goddesses known to the Keltoi peoples. Britannia being brown-eyed and sandy-haired, lithely-muscled and boyish in frame; Hibernia had dark hair and blue eyes, round and feminine.

Britannia was raised in the temple of the Dioskouri, and guided Her people across the Channel separating a tiny pair of islands fortold to her to be a safe-haven for the Keltoi, where they would enjoy a favoured temperate climate and master the seas that surrounded them.

Hibernia was a priestess of Apollon, and praised Him with song. She directed use of the great stone circle of Wiltshire, and was the first to dedicate offerings to Him there, brought over many weeks by foot and by ship from Delphi.

The Divine sisters, being the eldest two, each had different ideas about how to guide the pantheon of Gods and Goddesses and the people bestowed upon Them. Britannia, the eldest of Them all, sought rule, conquest, and dominance. Hibernia wanted to guide Their people in a balanced life, and strife broke out amongst the Gods and Goddesses of the Keltoi, and amongst the Keltoi themselves. The fighting lasted for centuries, some say it even ended.

The two Goddesses continued in their dichotomous existence: When Britannia led the Keltoi to modernise, reasoning it logically, Hibernia sought tradition for its own sake.

In spite of Their differences, the Sisters always sought the guidance and wisdom of each-other, and when Their people become too violent in their in-fighting, the Goddesses are saddened, but when even one from Britannia’s island and one from Hibernia’s can come together in friendship or love, the goddesses rejoice and are glad.

1: There’s a long, nay ancient trandition that “Hyperborea = British Isles“, and not merely the mythical winter home of Apollon. It’s even said that Stonehenge, at one time, was used as a temple of Apollon and that there was an annual offering couriered from Hellas to “Hyperborea”, and that it actually reached Britain.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

Valentinos (Betelgeuce): The Valentine’s Day star

In the grand tradition of re-purposing mythology, I give you this offering, Hedone, who offers us all the simple gift of delight and joy, which can be quite base as much as quite profound.

Valentinos was a keeper at the temple of Orion’s hero cult in Tanagra, Boiotia —at Hyria. He was intelligent, but many saw him as aimless, for after his daily chores of cleaning, fetching and boiling new water, changing clothing and jewellery on the statues that needed it, and collecting the offerings at the timely intervals in order to make room for new ones. After his work was over, he’d go out with his equally youthful friends and take in the delights that the city could offer them, both imported and domestic wines, plays, usually by some Thespian company or another, but often enough with treats from Athens or Cyrene, and on the way home to their apartments over the city’s baths, they’d stop by the old and crooked gentleman who’d park his donkey and cart outside a restaurant that had closed for the evening, selling second-hand and otherwise cheap book — few of the titles were great literature, but every so often, you’d find a second-generation scribe from Pindar’s work, or an illustrated scroll of The Askran Curmudgeon, and every now and again, the boxes of loose racy illustrations of gods and mortals —always four for a small coin— would have some beautifully worked picutres than managed to convey the bliss or an orgasm or the accuracy of how tiring some of those India-influenced positions could be; they’d stop by this cart, browse earnestly, and almost never walk away with more than one good read and a two or three good pictures for each and pair up, either with each-other or the “Akolouthi” women, the free-status versions of the pornai, and so deserved better pay, for they often had earned the skills to earn every last bit of coin nomisma.

Then one evening, Valentinos had become separated from his friends in talking to a girl. He told them to go ahead when he saw her, and then, from no-where, the former pimp from a young-ish girl Valentinos had laid with in the last week spied him turn a dark corner and took the opportunity to stab the youth in the back, slashing his insides, for he’d heard that it was the temple boys buying books and scrolls and pornographos from his former girl’s father that led to her debt repaid, and her freedom won. It was intolerable because she was popular, and perhaps causing despair would work to the old pimp’s favour?

As Valentinos lay bleeding out, he asked his feminine companion if she was alright.

“Oh, Valentinos, that vile creature could not see me. He sees only the children of Eris.”

“Ah,” he said with a cough that expelled a little blood, “he ignored you.”

“No, it’s that he cannot. You see goodness and delight in everything around you, so of course Hedone would show you Her human form.”

“She does, now?” Valentinos asked slyly, as he started to feel himself fade.

“I knew something awful was going to happen to you tonight, but in your heart is the purest feelings of delight. Your family believes you lack ambitions, but what better aims you have for yourself is to be more joyous than they were. They are rich but miserable people, and you take only as much of their money as you need—”

“Well, it’s all they offer. They expect I’ll want more, at which time [coughs hard] they expect me to learn ambition.”

“But you have other desires.”

“I do. I just want to delight in the world around me. I would love to visit Thebes, or Cyrene, or even Athens and Alexandria, but if that’s to be, it will be. All the delights in the world I could want for the moment are here in Tanagra [coughs, sputters]. If that changes, I’ll find a way to seek other delights.”

“And you know this so purely, my friend. You are one of the most natural and pure followers of delight there is in this world today, so I’m here to reward you. What has been your greatest delight, my friend?”

“Today? I changed the cape over the bones of Orion. It’s the softest red wool from Phrygia, and when I affixed it back to the wall…,” Valentinos coughed and wheezed, then spat blood from talking to fast to get his words out with his last breaths.

“Take your time… you have a little more than you may think.”

“After I affixed it back onto the wall over the case of bones, the sun hit it just the right way that it seemed to glitter, even though there wasn’t a bit of gold thread in the wool. I thought to myself, ‘it shall never again look this beautiful, and I have this lovely town and the greatest Boeotian Gods and Heroes to thank’.”

“I know, and so I will affix you to Orion’s cape in the stars, you shall hold it all together, and so Alpha Orionis shall now glow red and pulse like a heart with joy.”

“But why me, Goddess? Surely there are others greater, who’ve given not just delight to themselves, but to others?”

“In relative measure, you’ve given more joy to others than you believe you have. The old man you buy books and scrolls and pictures from used to be a gambler, and sold all four of his daughters for the loan to pay his debtors. Between you and your friends combined, one-by-one, his daughters’ freedom has been bought back, indeed, one of his older daughters is your favourite Akolouthi girl, and the younger such woman you laid with days ago—”

“The one who thanked me queerly? She was his youngest! Oh, Goddess, tell them they don’t have to thank me, ever. Their joy was a pleasure to give, and I give it with no expectations.”

When Valentinos didn’t return to work, one of his friends began looking all over the city, and soon found him in the dark alleyway; his body still there, scraps taken from it by the odd dog for the alleyway was a seldom-used stairway to the city’s Adonis Gardens on the rooftops for the women of the apartments. Valentinos’ friend carried the body toward the direction of his family’s home, and passed the old man with the books and pictures. Soon the old man’s daughters, all now free, caught the sight, and came over to their father to watch with him. When Valentinos’ friend took his body around a corner and out of their lines of sight, the youngest daughter, Phile, looked up at the sky.

She told her sisters and father to look up at the sky. “Don’t you see?”

“Don’t we see what, my dove?” her father asked.

“Orion is higher up in the sky tonight than usual. He must be holding out his arms for His fairest neokoros.”

Her sister Naia, Valentinos’ favourite, then noticed: “And the pin on the Great Hero’s cloak seems sort of pinkish, or a light red, like the sun bleaches his hair in the depths of summer.”

Then their father spoke up: “This is glorious, my girls! The hero of Boeotia sees this youth was of a pure heart, and to take that from this world is worthy of honour. So we shall keep the twenty-first day of Hermaios sacred to the joys and delights that Orion sees this youth has given.”

This year, 21 Hermaios is in 14 February. You may feel free to celebrate Hedone’s gift of the colour of Belelgeuse, a very large pulsating star which, along with the rest of Orion’s constellatiuon, is closest to the midpoint of the southern horizon around early February. And no, I did not make up this nickname for Betelgeuse:

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The Story of Pindar

Pindar was born in the 65th Olympiad in Cynoscephalae, a village outside Thebes. His mother’s name was Cleodice and no-one can seem to decide if his father’s name was Daiphantus, Pagondas or Scopelinus. Unlike Hesiod, he seems to be from the ancient Boeotian equivalent of a bourgeoisie background, and clearly this is one of those things that hasn’t changed about Western Society, as unlike Hesiod, he included practically none of his family’s dirty laundry in his own work. Pindar’s got class, so there’s not much I can goof on (affectionately, of course). There’s a legend that his gift for “honey-like verse” came from having his mouth stung by a bee as a youth, and that’s seriously all anybody really knows about ol’ high-falutin’ Pindar until he was maybe twenty — of course, if you think about it, it’s far more impressive that Hesiod, being from a lower class tier, made it past that age, this was a time when the mathematically-average lifespan was 40-ish, but if one could make it past the age of 15-ish, when the typical life expectancy was around 55-ish and the higher your class, the more likely you were to live into your seventies1 — and making it past the age of twenty at a time prior to even 18th Century medicine is a far more impressive feat when you’re a toiler than when you’re from “elegant learning”. In poetry, Pindar was tutored by Corinna of Tanagra (a fellow Boeotian) and also relocated to Athens to be further instructed by Lasos of Hermione. By the age of twenty, he was commissioned for his first Victory Ode by a wealthy family from Thessaly. At about the age of thirty, Pindar was at the Pythian games where he met chariot winner and Sicilian prince Thrasybulus, nephew of Theron of Acragas, and they became lifelong friends thereafter — it’s unfortunate that this seems to be one of the less slashtastic ancient Hellenic male-male friendships, but maybe I’m just letting my perversion show with that comment.

Er… *ahem!* Carry on!

So, it seems Pindar was a triple-threat lyric poet; he wrote the lyrics, he wrote the instrumental accompaniment, and he choreographed. In modern terms: Pindar was one melodramatic script away from being The Ultimate Theatre Geek™. Sometimes he’d train performers at his hime in Thebes, but he’d also get commissioned by patrons of the arts and would travel all over the ancient Hellenic world to put on shows. He was practically a celebrity, and like modern celebrities, there was sometimes rivalry for jobs, but Pindar’s got class — sure, some of his poetry reflects these rivalries, but only in vague metaphors, like with ravens and apes and shit like that. Even today, people speculate who this was really all about, but like I said, Pindar’s got class.

Still, Pindar got mixed up in politics. Once, after writing praise of Athens, the rival city of his home city of Thebes, fined him 5000 drachmae, and rumour has it that Athens responded with a gift of twice that. Other hometown drama llamas were ridden in on by the fact that he was a friend of Sicilian tyrant Hieron, the subject of one of Pindar’s first Pythian ode, and it was probably all this bullshit that later led him to write another ode denouncing all tyrants. It’s also been suggested all over the place (and at times seems rather apparent) that Pindar used his fame and his odes as a vehicle for advancing both personal interests and those of his friends. Alright, maybe Pindar’s class is limited, but still, man’s got it; after all, of his personal life, we have very little: his wife was Megacleia, and his son was named Daiphantus, and he had two daughtrers, Eumetis and Protomache. He lived in Thebes near the shrine of the oracle Alkmáon.

Pindar died at about the age of eighty2, and his daughters took home his ashes to Thebes, and the Thebans, despite visiting much drama upon the man in life, regarded his house as one of the city’s landmarks, a practical tourist attraction, and it is said that Alexander the Great so revered Pindar (possibly in no small part to the favourable writings he made of Alexandros I of Makedon) that when he had the city burned in the name of “building Hellenic unity”, Pindar’s house was the only one in the area left intact. Delphi’s Temple of Apollon displayed Pindar’s iron chair that he sat upon during the Theoxenia festival, and one of his daughters claimed to have inscribed a posthumous verse of Pindar’s honouring Persephone.

1: Seriously, in nearly 3000 years, we’ve only really gained about twenty years in life expectancy for the average person, and a statistically insignificant increase in life expectancy for higher classes, and the important factor hasn’t been in prolonging the lives of the elderly, but in all but eradicating paediatric mortality. Remember maths class: “average” figures for ancient life span account all the millions of people dying before the age of eighteen, which skews averages making it look like hardly anybody would see the age of thirty-five, when this is clearly bull.
2: Seriously, octogenarians don’t seem like that big a deal now, do they?
[Also, apologies for dragging this “week” out so long — it’s mainly been allergies, which have been bad enough this last couple weeks that I’ve been feeling muscle weakness and will wake up practically choking on my own snot. Wasn’t nearly so bad this morning. ☺]

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.

The Stories of Daphne and Hyakinthos

Re-Told By Ruadhan J McElroy

[Originally published in He Epistole, Summer of 2007, I believe. Edited and revised slightly.]

Once Artemis noted to her twin, “Dear brother, you advise to mortals ‘everything in moderation’, and yet you have lost yourself to the games of Eros at least twice.”

“Ah,” replied Apollon, “this is true. But remember, I advise everything in moderation – this holds especially true for moderation itself!”

This is the story of those instances.

Once, quite a long time ago, Apollon and Eros (who is older than all the Olympian Gods, but still rather child-like in his passions and general outlook), were in a dispute over who was the better archer of the two. Eros mentioned his millennia of years on the silver-bowed seer and how His own abilities of pairing of Gods and men alike had given him much more experience. Apollon scoffed, saying that it was not years, but the time He took to perfect his skill that made Him the superior bowman.

Apollon had decided he had enough of this pettiness and declared he was off to Gaia’s fertile plains to make music for the Nymphai – He may have been Eros’ junior in years, but He was still old enough to know when such an argument was going to go absolutely no-where.

Now Love always has something to prove, and with the encouragement of his companion Aphrodite, Eros simply could not let this go, and his golden arrow struck fair Apollon in the shoulder as the other eternal youth looked up from His lyre to glance at the dancing Naiad Daphne, the nymph of the artesian fountain nearby.

Now it is quite well-known that all nymphai love Apollon dearly, but most of them maintain chaste feelings toward Him, feeling more inclined toward the virile lasciviousness of the satyroi over the God’s refined sense of love-making — the Nymphai are, indeed, quite wild creatures at heart. Quite startled Daphne was when Apollon set down His harp and beckoned her nearer.

“But my Lord,” she replied, “I do not mean to offend, but if it is all the same to you, I would very much rather dance over here.”

“How can you mean that when I want nothing more than to be so nearer to you, sing of your beautiful chestnut hair and whisper sweet nothings in your ear?”

Startled, she began to back away. Unable to see the shaft of Eros’ dart for Apollon’s free-flowing mane, all that she could tell was that this was very much unlike Her God. When Apollon stood up and started toward Her, telling Her of Her beauty, Daphne feared a malevolent spirit was trying to trick Her, had somehow disguised itself as Her dear Apollon, and so She turned from Apollon’s hand and sped off faster than the speed of Eros’ dart.

“My beloved!” the confused God cried out. “Why do you run from your Lord?” Apollon ran to catch up with Daphne.

“You cannot be my Lord Apollon! My Lord knows that my heart belongs to the satyros Argyros, a keeper of hares! Whatever wicked spirit you are, return to where you came from! Do not touch me!”

“How can you not recognise your God? Please, dear woman,” Apollon begged, grabbing a hold of Daphne’s arm. “I beg of you, be done with this nonsense!”

Daphne turned her head and noticed that they had come upon the river of her father, Ladon, and called out to the river-God for help as Apollon held onto her and pleaded with her to allow Him to love her. By the power within Him, Ladon transformed His daughter at her plea that “anything would be better than being pursued by this fiend!”

Daphne’s feet took root into the ground below her as Gaia opened up her pores for the tearful nymphe. Her skin became thick, and like that of a tree as her rich brown hair spiralled up-ward and became covered with leaves thick and flavourful, but sharp to those who should bite them.

At first startled by her metamorphosis, Apollon’s heart then broke at the realisation of what He had driven his old friend to beg for. He then felt the golden head or Eros’ dart under His skin, and realised what the ancient ephebos had done to Him for daring to think Himself better than Nyx’s self-begotten son.

He begged the forgiveness of Ladon for so foolishly pursuing the river-god’s beloved daughter, and asked if He could bless this monument to the fair nymphe. He infused its leaves with the gift of second sight to all who should worship Him. Indeed, even today, followers of Apollon have been known to chew on or burn leaves of the divine daphne, known to the Latin-speaking Romans as “Laurel nobilis” and to modern speakers of the Briton tongue, which some believe is Hyperborean in nature, as “bay”.

Now on another occasion, quite some time after Daphne was but a memory but when mortal men were still in their infancy as a race, and the Gods roamed more freely among us than They do today, Lord Apollon became enchanted by a youth of Spartan nobility. The ephebe’s name was Hyakinthos, and even his mother was so mystified by her son’s beauty and intellect that she, like her neighbours, was hardly above comparing his charms to those of Apollon. Indeed, even His sister Artemis had to look twice when seeing them about, just to make sure that He had not found himself another twin.

“Well, my Brother,” She said when they parted from a playful and loving kiss. “I do believe that you have just proven yourself to not be above vanity. Even your beloved is only distinguishable from you by his mortal aura and the small imperfections in his young skin alone.”

“But do you not see, dear Sister, jealousy is such a waste. I am sure your beloved nymphe could have born Hermes in comfort if only your jealousy did not frighten even our dear Father.”

Artemis knew better that to quarrel with Her twin over the differences between jealousy and the wrath reserved for oath-breakers. He knew the difference, and despite Her wild ways, She was too mannered than to argue with Him in front of His new lover.

Despite his unwavering love for Apollon, Hyakinthos was still mortal and therefore flawed. One of these flaws was that he still could not tell when his own youthful flirting may be taken more seriously than it was intended to be, and this finally was met with sorrow from Zephyros, who had become quite enamoured with the mortal boy.
When Hyakinthos finally realised that Zephyros had fallen in love with him, he apologised to the north wind – he did not mean to mislead Him of his own affections.

“I am gravely sorry, but my heart belongs to Apollon.”

“No! I refuse to believe it!”

“But it is true. And I swear on my life that I had no intentions to make you think I felt that way toward you. I ask that you accept my admittance of this mortal mistake. Just please, I beg of you, dear God, turn your head so that you may see the truth.”

“Why should eruthibios Olympian have the heart of all the lovely young men of the world? Am I not myself attractive?”

“You are indeed fair in your own right, but it is impossible for me to share my heart with two. If I were to even try such a feat, one would become favoured over the other. No mortal can love more than one in the way that I love Apollon. If he tried to, he would fail. There are polygamists who take as many as they can financially provide for equally, but one wife is always awarded the lion’s share of his heart, meaning that his provisions can never be truly equal. Even great Zeus obviously gives more of his heart to Hera than to those he unites with in passing fancy.”

As the boy ran toward Apollon’s beckoning, Zephyros cried out in heartbreak, “Mark my word, fair mortal – if I cannot love you, than neither can He!”

Apollon, honoured by men of the gymnasia, was teaching his young paramour to throw the discus and were now playing an old catching game with the throwing circle as Artemis and Hekate sat by and watched as their dogs ran about with the masculine beings of golden hair.

Then just as Hyakinthos ran to catch the disc as he had been, Hekate could see from the corner of her eye Zephyros, with a jealous look in his.

Hekate cried out “Wait, stop!” but Apollon had already thrown the discus. Zephyros then blew the weighted toy off its course, and quickly did Hyakinthos’ neck snap as the heavy circle beat the mortal youth across his brow.

Where his blood fell, flowers did begin to sprout and take root, as Apollon lifted the boy up, tears pouring down his own face.
Where the story ends here for many people, offering them nothing more than an allegorical tale of the death of childhood. But in Sparta it was said that the fair boy, who was one of their own, by petition of Apollon and the will of Hades, whose heart was softened by his wife Persephone – so girlishly romantic, deep down inside – was reborn as a demigod and every summer in Sparta, they would honour this death with solemn feasts and his rebirth by offering fine clothes to Apollon, singing songs of He and His beloved Spartan boy, and some were even inducted in the mysteries of Apollon and His favourite of all youths.

About Ruadhán McElroy

Ruadhán has been a traditional Hellenic polytheist for about a decade, and has also maintained devotions to Eros and Apollon most of that time; his status as a devotee of Nyx is more recent. He also paints, makes music, makes jewellery, and writes novels set in the Mod Revival (UK) and Swampie (Oz) subcultures of the 1980s. He also gets a lot of odd little experiences that he jokes will forever render him an insufferable Goth.