4. Hera

“My, son of Tros, you are quite the looker.”

“So the words of the mortals are not baseless after all.”

“Our Father is as fast as always, eh? How many gods and mortals have he conquered already?”

“Ares, you would do well to watch your mouth in front of him.”

“Certainly more than me, but I’m not complaining.”

“Brother, what a way to boast.”

“Ah, but to think he would allow you to stay with us… You must be more than just any most-beautiful-in-whatever-land, right? What’s your name again?”

Oh, they finally talked to me.

“It’s Ganymede.” – The king of Olympus finally spoke, and all the gods returned to their posts, taking that as a cue to leave me some space.

“And while we’re at it, Poseidon, would you be so kind as to give me two of your horses?”

The God of the Sea paused at the unusual request, his hands stopped spinning the gold trident:

“Why, Zeus, I thought the ones I provided for your chariot can last another two hundred years?”

“If he is to stay with us here, it’s only right that his father gets compensated for.”

“I see. Will the white ones do, then?”

“They are good enough, thank you.” – Zeus replied, and before he could continue Hermes had already stood up, the tiny wings on his sandals flapping gently. The Messenger God was more than familiar with the routine, and Zeus looked at his son in approval as he gave his orders:

“Hermes, go at once to Poseidon’s stables and pick out the horses, then give them to the king of the Trojans as my compensation for his son. Tell him that Ganymede is safe and healthy, and will forever be among the gods as an immortal. Lastly…”

“Yes, Father?”

“Make sure Hera does not know of it.”

I registered a few chuckles among the gods as the Queen got mentioned. Hermes tried his best to make his smirk look more like an assuring smile.

“Certainly. Then I’ll be o…”

“WHAT IS IT THAT YOU CAN’T LET ME KNOW?”

A loud, indignant voice came bursting through the ivory doors of the Pantheon, bringing along an enchanting lady clad in the most magnificent red silk robe. All was brought onto their feet as Hera made her entrance. She had a fierce gaze directed at Zeus, and for the first time I saw him grimaced as her severe tone hinted an impending outrage:

“I knew you’re at it again.”

She was as beautiful as a goddess could be, and everything in her demeanor spoke of unquestioned authority. For indeed no home was complete without the hand of a woman, even more so in Olympus, where Hera the legitimate wife of Zeus reigned as the Queen. She was the goddess of marriage and family who oversaw the happiness and sorrow under every roof, and with the same dedication she had been keeping the divine household together despite her husband’s ever-growing list of lovers. With barely half a glance across the room she had already confirmed me as her next enemy, her rival for the love of Zeus, and I braced myself for the unavoidable clash as Hera strode towards her throne beside him, her eyes on me as if she was forced to look at a disgusting worm. Even Athena the goddess of war and wise counsels could not rival the scheming head of a jealous woman, and as Zeus’s infidelity continued unabated his bitter wife only grew more discerning and merciless.

“So, this is your new interest.” – Hera spoke haughtily, now settled beside Zeus – “Has the mortal realm ran out of women for your adventures already, that you must turn to this average boy to satisfy your pleasure?”

“I never said I prefer women over men, but I did say I’d prefer anyone more than you, my wife.”

I closed my eyes as Hera, quite expectedly, exploded, her regal voice turned shrill and grating as it reverberated throughout the room.

“How shameless of you, forgoing your conduct as ruler of all the gods! Why, how many times must I repeat myself…”

No amount of forethought could have prepared me for the wrath of the goddess that was sure to come, and fear began to seize my heart. Yet strange enough all the other gods more or less maintained their composure, either because non-involvement meant innocence, or because they themselves had witnessed Hera’s wrath for far too many times to even bother.

“Why do I, the most venerable goddess in this Olympus, have to chase the skirts of your detestable lovers…”

Athena, beloved daughter of Zeus in her shining armor, gave me an encouraging smile. Poseidon, great ruler of the sea and a married man with many affairs himself, gave his brother Zeus a shrug as he sat down near one of the pillars, and started spinning his trident again as they all endured the ongoing verbal assault.

“And what exactly are you planning behind my back, sending Hermes on some errand without my knowledge! Where is that mischievous brat…”

And earlier I had caught a glimpse of Hermes slipping through the doors of the Pantheon, following the barely perceptible gestures of Apollo and Artemis lest Hera caught him by the sandal and launched a full-on interrogation. Ironic as it could be, I now pitied the Queen of the gods, not because she no longer held the heart of her husband, but since so obsessed was she over something she had lost, no one could remember her as anything but full of ugly spite and pointless vengeance.

“And now after all those episodes of turning into a bull, into golden showers and whatnot, you are defiling our sacred home by bringing that horrid mortal boy here…”

“Ganymede, come here.” – Zeus suddenly raised his voice. He was clutching his scepter, and upon seeing his dark face I wasted no time rushing over to his side. For I knew, by instinct, that Hera’s rage was nothing compared to that of he who wielded the thunderbolt.

Once I was by his side the almighty god held out his scepter, and before anyone could understand what was happening, he gently knocked twice on top of my head. I shuddered as an invisible swarm of ants seemed to crawl from the top of my head to all parts of my body, my skin glowed brightly wherever it reached. Hera went livid, her eyes burned with uncontrollable rage as her shout shook the Pantheon.

“ZEUS!! HOW DARE YOU! Y-You made him immortal!!”

3. Zeus

I slumped to the ground lush with green grass, my eyes filled with tears. I saw more than any man could have ever seen in his entire life, and yet I knew nothing, much less understood it. That child god Eros, what “honor” could he be talking about? What was I to do, having been taken away from my homeland to a place so high no man could ever reach? What exactly had happened, and why it happened so? Had my family or I myself committed a dreadful sacrilege out of ignorance against the gods on high, and so this was their punishment for our insolence? What would happen to me, then? Would I ever get to return home? What would happen to my family? The blessings of the deathless were the most generous, but so much greater were their punishments once us mortals displeased them. I cried, trembling in fear at the thought of my family and homeland in impending demise for an offence that I might have committed out of folly.

The mere moments ago when I was still living a carefree life now seemed so far away….

Ganymede.

A voice, deep and gentle, slow and assuring, vibrated and lingered in my head, for I heard it not from my ears. All my fears were gone that instant. I froze on the spot, unsure of myself. Did I imagine it?

Ganymede.

Something light and warm touched me, something strangely familiar, and I looked up to find the eagle before my eyes, standing tall and proud. One of its wings was still resting on my arm, its feathers ruffled due to the flight from not so long ago, when its firm but gentle claws had held me as it brought me here. Just like how my fears were chased away, so gone was all my anger, and I could only sit and stare into the bright blue orbs of the creature, not knowing what to expect.

Did it just talk to me? But how, for not a single sound was heard? Was it my mind playing tricks on me? No, it could not be so…

Surely you would know who he is?

In this place far beyond the wildest fantasy of earthbound mortals, I should have known…

That no rules applied for the gods.

The eagle folded its wings and tilted its head. Its eyes locked into mine, wide as if it was expecting something. Something like a response.

He wanted me to respond.

I gulped, and my head went spinning as it was put to the unexpected test. He was not my friend, so it would not be “Hi”. “Hello” did not sound right either. And I could not kneel and address him in long flowery speeches like how my father’s subjects addressed their king, seeing as I was already staring him dead in the face. Should I mimic the way his priest addressed him during the rituals? But then, I was not offering him any sacrifices. I even had no clue on why he had brought me here. He just merely called my name, and now I had to think of how to…

My name.

I gaped at the eagle. It could not be, could it?

If he had just called my name, then…

I tried to swallow an invisible lump clogging my throat, feeling my heart beating violently. It felt so heavy, this single word, yet it came out softer than any whisper:

“Zeus.”

The creature tilted its head to the other side and blinked, its eyes twinkled under the soft sunlight. Its wings then stretched out, and as it did so strong winds suddenly came forth. The sun grew many times more dazzling, countless leaves danced furiously in the air. Great trees swayed as heavenly birds fled in all directions, and the ground rumbled with tremors from deep below while the sky echoed with thunder above. I was on all fours, my face buried in the grass as terror ran throughout my body. But the next instant all was calm, swift as though nothing had happened, and I heard again that deep and gentle voice which had come from within me:

“Ganymede.”

It now came from above, and my heart eased as it carried apparent warmth. Shaken but at nowhere injured, I slowly looked up.

That was when I first saw him.

He appeared to me in greatest splendor, the rough tongues of men could never tell justice of his overwhelming aura. His eyes were of the most magnificent shade of blue, the color of the sky itself. With them he could caress and kill, for he saw all and knew all. His hair, like Eros, shone the shade of finest royal gold, his fair skin glowed on his toned and youthful form. A towering stature, while intimidating at first glance, made him even more of a lovely sight when beheld at leisure. I was enraptured, my voice had gone for good. He gave me a soft smile when our eyes met, and in a split second I almost forgot who I was as the world felt void of all grief and sorrow. Father of gods and men, ruler above all, one who wielded the mighty thunderbolt, such is Zeus who had come to me in the guise of a great eagle, and on his strong wings he carried me to Olympus.

Seeing you was beyond all dreams…

Before I realized, the king of the gods in one swift movement had whisked me into his strong arms. His face was closer to mine than ever, and I found myself drowning further in his eyes. My head went dizzy, I could hardly breathe. And perhaps my face looked very funny, for he gave a small laugh as he addressed me for the first time:

“Lovely child of man, what a fine voice you have.”

The god looked to be in a very good mood, and it dawned on me at last that I was not here to be punished for whatever reason after all. What a relief, then, that nothing bad would happen to my family…

Wait, then…

“Why did you…”

I froze, unable to finish my word. That powerful gaze I once felt in my dream… Zeus was eyeing me intently. His fingers went tracing around my face, paused at my cheek before resting on my lips. It grew hot on my skin wherever he touched, and I could hear my own heart beating loudly without pattern as his face drew even closer. The look in his eyes became unbearable, yet before I could drop my gaze to the ground beneath his fingers moved to my chin and held it in place. Then came a light pull, and I tasted a sweetness that was most divine as our lips finally met. It was soft as if born from both wind and water, and warm like the first light of the rising sun. It lasted for a brief wonderful moment, and left me yearning for more once it ended. I opened my eyes to meet his own, happy and full of love, and the god chuckled as he held me close:

“Lovely child, you are very pleasing to me indeed.”

Ah, I got it…

“I am glad I brought you here.”

He wanted me.

His intent gaze fell upon me once more, but I was no longer wary of it, for now I knew it held no ill will nor harshness, only affection and favor. I could now discern what Eros had meant to say: It was truly a great honor for a mortal to have found favor in the eyes of the gods. Although, this was a slightly different kind of honor…

“I must say, I very much enjoyed the taste of your lips.”

I quickly avoided Zeus’s eyes and stared at the grass around his feet, and he laughed as my face went hot from embarrassment. But the next moment his hand lifted my face up, and as our eyes met again his gaze grew more solemn. From his mouth came the unerring words that forever changed my life:

“Ganymede, you will stay with me here on Olympus, and be among the gods.”

2. Ascendance

“…nymede. Ganymede!”

My eyes flashed open. That sweet voice which came from above… A boy was towering over me, grinning.

“Young prince, weak mortal, has your mind returned to you yet?” – He asked gleefully, and I sprang up as my memories reassembled, panic instantly filled my heart.

Grazing. I took my father’s herd to Mount Ida for grazing, like I did so everyday. I played with my servant boys as usual, while my tutors kept a tight watch. The eagle which I had seen in recent days was nowhere to be found, and as I was wondering the where and why of it, a great storm arrived and…

“That eagle!” – I blurted out in shock and anger, and the mysterious boy laughed. I turned my head around in search for the creature that took me here, but again, it was all for naught.

“Oh, him? He will come back soon, don’t worry.”

“Ah, thank you…” – I turned to the boy of the sweet voice, only to lose mine.

He looked younger than me, and far more beautiful than any boy I had met. His eyes spelled mischief like no other, and there remained his wide smile, gleeful like he just got a new toy. His blonde hair matched well with the colour of his bow and arrows – why was a child carrying that? And behind him, fluttering ever so slightly…

Wings. Those were wings. My jaw dropped as the boy once again broke into laughter. And he kept on laughing as I gaped at him, wondering if everything was merely a wild dream.

“Who are you?” – It sounded almost like a pitiful plea, and I felt like crying. I was scared and confused.

The boy stopped laughing at last and for once his naughty eyes mellowed as he turned to me.

“I’m Eros, one that strikes most equally, be it men or gods. My arrows spare none and miss none, two kinds of them, which I wield with closed eyes. One condemns the heart to fear and hatred of even the most joyful love, the other fills it with desire so much greater than all reasons. I grant them at random to any and all that dwells and lives, but it being curse or blessing is up to each and everyone.”

In bewilderment I stared at the boy in front of me. Eros, the god of Love… It couldn’t be…and yet it could. He had wings, most real like any wings there were. His bow and arrows were of the most splendid gold, not even my father could possess it. He knew my name. He called me a mortal. And he called that eagle him. And if he is indeed a god, then…

“Where am I?”

“Olympus, of course. Where else do gods live, except Hades who rules the Underworld?”

Olympus.

“… I see.” – I will think of that later. – “Then, that eagle…”

“My dear boy, surely you would know who he is? You of royal blood must have been taught so well by your tutors. Or have they not told you to whom do eagles belong?”

Eros’s face was so close to mine that our noses almost touched. I gulped, feeling my stomach churning violently. I regretted taking an interest in that eagle. I should not have gone near it despite the warnings of my tutors. I should not have let it enter my dream. I should have listened to my father earlier and stayed home for the day. I had thought that it was needless concern of a doting parent, which now had turned out to be foreboding. Now I got taken away, and my father would be mad with worry, for his fear had realized itself.

“It’s no use overthinking it. He would get you here one way or another.” – Eros spoke, and my heart sank.

“Why…”

“Why don’t you ask him yourself?”

I could barely conceal my dislike for this god, his mischievous grin was already back on his face.

“If I could, then I wouldn’t…”

“Oh, and once you’re with him, don’t forget me.” – Eros interrupted me as he stood up.

Why would I forget someone so…

“You owe me this great honor.” – Eros flashed me one more annoying grin, his wings flapping gently.

“Wait, what are you talking…”

“Now, I’ll excuse myself.”

Before I could find more words, Eros took to the sky and soon disappeared.

1. Dream

He was alone in the middle of a vast field. The grass felt moist with dew and smooth like silk under his bare feet, the winds danced their most elegant, invisible slow steps around him, and the golden light of the rising sun was strangely gentle on his pearly white skin. He looked around, and realized that he was at the foot of Mount Ida, the same spot to which he usually took his father’s herd of cows and sheep. Except now there was no cow nor sheep around him, neither were his servants and tutors who had always been at his side. Everything looked the same, yet felt so different. An odd mixture of emotions welled up inside him, made up of ethereal serenity and sweet excitement, with a bitter aftertaste of loneliness. He wondered why there was no fear.

A small rustling sound from behind caught him startled, and he turned around to see a large eagle in its most majestic form, perching upon a rock near the slope. Surprised, he walked closer. He had seen this creature, not once or twice, but for more times than he could count with all his fingers. Larger than any of its kind, with eyes the color of the boundless sky, he always felt its gaze on him whenever they met. Again, he wondered why he felt no fear.

He tool one more look around, only to see the same field with green grass, cool breeze and sunlight, devoid of any man or animal saved for him and the bird. He looked again at the beautiful creature. The eagle blinked its mesmerizing blue eyes, and returned his stare. It felt no fear, just like he did not. In fact, it did not seem to fear anything.

Curiosity took over him, and he asked, having forgotten the common sense that animals did not speak the tongue of man:

“Why are you here?”

The eagle tilted its head, and answered him with its eyes, half inquisitive, half amused. He was sure the creature understood him.

The eagle then slightly stretched out its wings, its feathers grazed his arm, softer than water. In amazement he touched the tip of its wing, light as air and fair as the flowing brown hair of a young maiden, when he felt something warm on his cheek. There the eagle was resting its beak, its eyes closed in brief contentment.

But the next instant they were open again, and so intense was its gaze upon him that he felt himself rooted to the ground beneath. He was petrified. He felt fear. He surely had crossed a boundary no man had ever crossed. He knew at once, that the creature in front of him was no beast to be reigned over by the likes of men.

His words came before he learnt its meaning:

“Who are you?”

Myths of the Greeks and Roman – Digital project

Greetings to my (few) followers, after a long period of hiatus.

Also, greetings to my university friends, tutors, and professors who will (and may) visit this blog from today and hopefully, many days later.

Yes, as you can see from the title of this post, I’m doing a digital project as part of my unit at the university, and thanks to it I will unleash a stream of posts from today (which is so rare an event you might as well take it as an impossibility). This post and the upcoming posts of the project will be filed under CLAN 1001 category, which can be found using the Compass.

Many apologies for my lack of update so far, and many thanks for my followers who, despite it all, have stuck with me until now. I hope you all will enjoy what I have come up with for such an interesting and challenging topic, and leave me with valuable feedback for my ongoing adventure with words and stories.

Thank you and write on!

Rezzaire