I have had a lifelong love for, and fascination with, Greek mythology, so it only seems natural that much of my fiction is inspired by it. I love escaping into the ancient past, exploring the sacred Garden of the Hesperides, the wine-dark Aegean Sea, the silvery caves of the Nereids, the smoke-filled forge of Hephaestus… It seems every realm and creature conceivable exists in the timeless pages of Homer, Hesiod, Sophocles, Aeschylus and the like.
I wanted to share with you a few of the notable people and places that appear in book one of The Petros Chronicles, Age of the Ashers. From a heartbroken musician and a ruthless sea monster, to Circe’s bewitched island and the tear-soaked Vale of Mourning, the story is full of interesting – sometimes terrifying – locales and characters that I’m sure will capture your imagination like they did mine.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at one of my favorite mythological characters, who pops up in Age of the Ashers!
Orpheus…Where do I begin!? A gifted musician, singer, songwriter, and poet, he’s the ancient Greek version of Leonard Cohen or Ed Sheeran. What sets him apart, however, is that his music was able to charm all living creatures, causing them to completely relax, or in Cerberus the three-headed hell hound’s case, fall asleep! Even trees would uproot themselves to move closer to his music.
Orpheus’ love story is regarded as one of the most tragic of all time. His beloved Eurydice was killed by a viper bite just after their wedding. Overcome with grief, the poet roamed the world, playing mournful, heartrending songs on his lyre. The ballads were so moving, so grippingly poignant, that even the gods of Olympus took notice.
The weeping nymphs advised Orpheus to go to the Underworld and beg its rulers, Hades and Persephone, to grant him his wife back. After singing to them, their steely hearts were softened, and they granted Orpheus his wish, though it came with one condition: he must not look back at Eurydice as they made their way to the upper realm.
Fearing Eurydice wasn’t behind him when he reached earth’s surface, Orpheus looked over his shoulder. The second he did so, he watched in horror as Eurydice disappeared, pulled back into the Underworld, never to be seen by Orpheus again. He’d ruined his one and only opportunity to raise his love from the dead.
As I was planning Age of the Ashers, I asked myself the question: “How can I get Chloe [my protagonist] to the Underworld?” It’s not like she was going to volunteer to mosey down there herself!
I brainstormed a few different scenarios, and soon another question occurred to me: “Is there anybody in the Underworld who would have something to gain by kidnapping her and bringing her back with him/her?” Sure, lots of spirits could be talked into such a mission, especially if it meant possibly earning their life back, but who could possibly succeed? It would require someone suave, someone smooth, someone charming…
I thought of poor Orpheus, trapped in the Vale of Mourning (which I’ll go into detail about in a later post), pining for his Eurydice. He’d literally gone to hell and back trying to save her; I knew he’d do anything, including kidnapping a mortal girl, to try again.
And that, in a nutshell, is how Orpheus became an antagonist in Age of the Ashers. If you want to find out whether or not he succeeds in reuniting with Eurydice, you’ll have to read the novel! ;-)
I’ll be back soon to share more mythology from Age of the Ashers!
“I guess darkness serves a purpose: to show us that there is redemption through chaos. I believe in that. I think that's the basis of Greek mythology.” - Brendan Fraser