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Today I’m on the ‘Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling’ blogtour, organized by The Coffee Pot Book Club.
To promote this book I have a guest post, but before I let you read it first some ‘basic’ information.
About the Author :
Zenobia Neil was named after an ancient warrior queen who fought against the Romans. She writes historical romance about the mythic past and Greek and Roman gods having too much fun.
Book Title: Ariadne Unraveled
Author: Zenobia Neil
Publication Date: 7th July 2021
Publisher: Hypatia Books
Page Length: 345 Pages
Genre: Mythic retelling / Historical Romance
Ariadne, high priestess of Crete, grew up duty-bound to the goddess Artemis. If she takes a husband, she must sacrifice him to her goddess after no more than three years of marriage. For this reason, she refuses to love any man, until a mysterious stranger arrives on her island.
The stranger is Dionysus, the new god of wine who empowers women and breaks the rules of the old gods. He came to Crete seeking vengeance against Artemis. He never expected to fall in love.
Furious that Dionysus would dare meddle with her high priestess, Artemis threatens to kill Ariadne if Dionysus doesn’t abandon her. Heartbroken, the new god leaves Crete, vowing to become better than the Olympians.
From the bloody labyrinth and the shadows of Hades to the halls of Olympus, Dionysus must find a way to defy Artemis and unite with his true love. Forced to betray her people, Ariadne discovers her own power to choose between the goddess she pledged herself to and the god she loves.
Guest Post :
When I wrote Ariadne Unraveled: A Mythic Retelling, I had the pleasure of writing about a great variety of Greek gods—Dionysus is one of my main characters, so I also wrote about his foster father Silenus and his half-brother Hermes. I have scenes with Ariadne’s grandfather Helios, the Sun God. I wrote about Artemis and Apollo, Hera and Ares, but the Greek god who surprised me the most, who I delighted in getting to know better, was Hephaestus God of the Forge.
In Ariadne Unraveled I strove to write about lesser-known myths. I didn’t want to focus on Theseus or the Minotaur, though both are important characters in the novel. There are already so many tales about them. True, there are many stories about Ariadne, but less so about her relationship with Dionysus, especially the lesser-known story that she was married to him before meeting Theseus, which contradicts the more popular myth that he abandoned her on Naxos possibly for Dionysus to wed. How could I rectify these conflicting ideas? Figuring out how to weave these stories together was one of my goals, but I also wanted to focus on the other less familiar tales.
While researching, I read Adrienne Mayor’s delightful book Gods and Robots: Myths, Machines, and Ancient Dreams of Technology. I had not thought about automatons in the ancient world before and it was fascinating to consider all the feats of engineering in ancient myth. Mayor discusses the reported accomplishments of the mortal Minoan engineer Daedalus, who I mention in Ariadne Unraveled but don’t focus on because there are many myths that include him, and he is often the one credited with giving Ariadne the ability to free Theseus from the labyrinth.
In Gods and Robots, Mayor also writes about Hephaestus and his amazing skill to make moving statues. I always knew about Hephaestus, the lame God of the Forge who was married to Aphrodite, but I never thought much of him or realized how amazing he is.
Hephaestus is the only Olympian who has a disability. Some myths claim that Hera gave birth to him herself to prove to Zeus that she could. But, the myths say, Hephaestus was born with a clubfoot, and she threw him off Olympus. (This feels so terribly like the Greek gods.) Later, when he went back to Olympus, he intervened in a fight between Hera and Zeus and Zeus tossed him from Olympus a second time. He then was cared for the by the people of Lemnos, a northern Aegean island that became sacred to him, and a mythic home of Ariadne and Dionysus.
Hephaestus is the God of the Forge and the only god to actually do work and to work with his hands. Inspired by his disability, Hephaestus crafted different carriers for himself. Mayor wrote about him making a chair of golden women. I loved this idea that the only god with a physical disability used that to inspire his craft and to elevate himself.
During my research, I read that Dionysus and Hephaestus had both sought refuge with Thetis under the sea. One of the two times Hephaestus was thrown from Olympus, Thetis rescued him as she later did with the young god Dionysus when he was chased by his uncle who had been enraged by Hera.
Dionysus and Hephaestus are similar in many ways. They both have serious issues with their divine parents. (This might be true for most of the Greek pantheon but being thrown off Olympus twice is pretty bad even for the Olympians). Dionysus didn’t meet his father for a very long time and spends a great deal of his life not knowing for sure if he even is a god. They both take one thing and change it into something else.
While I was writing, I imagined these two gods meeting under the sea with Thetis and becoming friends and then I heard them call each other by their nicknames. Here’s a passage where they’re reunited in Lemnos.
The hammers ceased, and a flash of gold rippled inside the cave. Blinking into the light of day, Hephaestus, seated in a chair held by four golden women, came to greet them. The God of the Forge had a blunt face covered with a wild black beard and equally wild, wavy hair. His broad chest swelled with muscles. His strong forearms and hands were black with soot, as was his red tunic and thick leather apron.
“Twice Born!” Hephaestus bellowed when he spotted Dionysus.
“Twice Fallen!” Dionysus shouted, running toward his friend. “You appear much taller than the last time we met.”
“Indeed! I have grown four golden women bearers and a golden chair instead of regular feet.” Hephaestus’s laughter reminded Ariadne of a rock crumbling. “I am honored to host you.”
“And we are honored to be here. Allow me to present my lovely wife, Ariadne, Mistress of the Labyrinth, her companion Thalia, and my foster father…” He glanced around, not seeing Silenus. “My foster father is here somewhere.”
When I first began to write about Ariadne and Dionysus, I had not expected to write about Hephaestus or even to take my characters to Lemnos, but writing fiction, like studying the Greek gods, is often surprising.
The Magic of Wor(l)ds