“My mom says that it seems like there were two classes—more like religious groups—back then, at least according to one scroll that got confiscated a long time ago. One class worshipped the gods and goddesses, like Poseidon, Apollo, and Athena, and the other worshipped one god, named Duna.”
From Age of the Ashers
Welcome back, myth lovers! Today I’m going to share yet another mythological figure who plays an important role in The Petros Chronicles. In fact, today’s featured character is the arch-villain of the series.
You may know that Apollo, twin brother of Artemis, is the Greek god of music, poetry, art, archery, medicine, sunlight, and knowledge. All great things, right?
Well, did you know that he’s also the god of ill health, and that he infected the Greek armies at Troy with a deadly plague? Did you know he could be a spiteful lover, so much so that he cursed the Trojan princess Cassandra so that no one would believe her grisly prophecies? Did you know he had a man named Marsyas flayed and nailed his skin to a pine tree simply because the man had challenged him to a flute-playing contest?
Yes, Apollo had many good points, but he definitely had his fair share of character flaws as well. He brings to mind this poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:
There was a little girl,
Who had a little curl,
Right in the middle of her forehead.
When she was good,
She was very good indeed,
But when she was bad she was horrid.
I don’t know if Apollo had a curl in the middle of his forehead, but I do know that when he was bad, he was horrid (and that’s putting it lightly!).
It was this stark contrast between his light side of truth and beauty, and his dark side of wrath and hubris, that led me to cast him as my chief antagonist.
Granted, all the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology have their light and dark sides - there are no perfect angels among them! But what ultimately inspired me to focus on Apollo was his well-known charisma; he was beloved by the Greeks because he was strongly associated with common men and women, from kings and physicians to musicians and simple shepherds.
And not only was he loved and revered, he was famously attractive too. Beardless, athletic, and eternally youthful, his was the ideal body for ancient Greek men, an ideal known to us as kouros, which means “youth, boy, especially of noble rank.” His good looks remind me of the biblical account of Satan, who’s described as “masquerading” as an “angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). He might look like beauty and truth incarnate, but in reality, he’s a serpent, cunning, stealthy, and cruel.
In The Petros Chronicles, Apollo is Orpheus’s father, a detail to which many myths attest (others say that Oeagrus, king of Thrace, was his father). I thought this a fitting relationship as one of his chief attributes as the god of music is the lyre, and Orpheus was a renowned lyrist.
“On this day, just after the peach light of dawn had spread over the ash-colored mountains, Orpheus took his lyre and began to play the song he had composed the morning he first laid eyes on Eurydice. The words rolled off his lips like water burbling in a brook as he closed his eyes and recreated the moment within the dreamlike haze of his most darling memory.”
Age of the Ashers
But, like many family ties in Greek mythology, Apollo and Orpheus’s father/son relationship was sorely lacking in terms of affection, tenderness, loyalty, and unconditional love. In my series, Apollo is one of the rulers of the Underworld (along with Hermes and Hades), and has no problem keeping his son imprisoned in the miserable Vale of Mourning. The only reason he releases Orpheus is that he’s needed for a specific task only he can accomplish.
To learn more about this fiendish errand, and to see whether Orpheus follows through with it, check out Age of the Ashers. It’s Book 1 in the series and is now available in e-book, paperback, and audiobook formats.