A Modern Creation – Theogony Short Story

Hesiod strode down the long white hall, clutching his papers to his chest like a mother clutches her baby. Balls of sweat flung at his eyes and cheeks as his bounding steps bounced his shaggy locks against his brow. Frantically, he swung his head about, searching the walls for the correct number. Room 706. Room 704. Room 702. Room 700. That was it.

Hesiod paused momentarily outside the door. He had to collect himself. No doubt he currently looked like a slob soaked in rank sweat. The musty stink was almost too much to bear. Shifting his papers to the bend of his left elbow, Hesiod did his best to dry his hair with the sleeve of his free arm. It wasn’t much use. A moment of self-doubt pricked at him.

What if the producer takes one look at me and sends me off?   

He took that thought and beat it to a pulp.

I am Hesiod, and one day I will be known as the greatest writer of all time. Looks do not determine my abilities. And with that thought, the writer entered the room, straight-backed and confident.

He did not stop to take in the scenery of the small cube-shaped box, but instead headed straight for the open chair opposite to the producer and sat himself down at the woman’s invitation.

She was a young and rather beautiful woman, wearing a khaki blazer over an elegant polka-dotted blouse. Hesiod shuddered slightly. He didn’t do well with good-looking women. She smiled and offered both her hand and name (Calliope), which Hesiod accepted only after wiping his palm vigorously against his trousers.

“So”, Calliope began in a harmonic tone, “you present a rather interesting title, Hesiod. The Theogony, an epic tale describing the origins of the Greek gods. You have me intrigued. Now if you would like to describe your movie, I am ready.”

Hesiod needed this movie. It would be his ticket. He pushed aside his papers, took a deep breath, looked Calliope straight in her brilliant amber eyes, and began. “At first there is only Chaos, a dark and empty space. And out of this formless void springs forth Gaia, Tartarus, and Eros who are the deities Earth, Underworld and Love, in that order. From Gaia comes Uranus, the God of the Heavens and the Sky, and together they produce the Titans. The youngest son, Cronus, and his sister–”

“Sorry to interrupt already.” Calliope held up her red pen. She must have said something more, but Hesiod didn’t hear a single word, for he found himself lost in the producer’s sparkling eyes for a brief moment.

“I–I’m sorry.” Hesiod stuttered when his senses returned. “Could you please repeat that?”

Calliope’s titter was like that of a pixie’s. “I asked which of them creates the humans. Apologies if you were getting to that.”

“That would be Prometheus, with the help of Athena”, Hesiod answered, “but those events do not occur in my story.”

“No humans?” Calliope frowned. “No, no, we cannot have that. Not at all. Have the Earth, Gaia, create the humans to inhabit her lands.”

Hesiod did his best to maintain his composure. A deep and steadying breath calmed him enough to respond in a steady tone. “That is not how it goes. Prometheus molds the humans from clay, very carefully to look like the gods, and if I write the story your way, that would not be possible. Also, if the humans were created alongside the Titans, they would be elder to the gods which…” Hesiod gave a contemptuous snort along with a shake of his head, “which does not make much sense, now does it?”

 The writer met Calliope’s blank stare. No longer did her eyes sparkle. “You are my elder, and yet it is I who controls whether or not this movie is published. I was the only one who accepted a meeting with you, Hesiod, do not forget that.”

Hesiod’s mouth hung ajar. Who was this woman to treat his story in such a way? His story. His. Hesiod’s. Not Calliope’s.

Suddenly, Calliope’s eyes turned soft, and her thin lips turned at the corners. Beige streaks rippled down from the undulating curves of her wavy brown hair like veins of gold in a waterfall and splashed against the narrow shoulders of her blazer.

“Y-you do have a point.” Hesiod nodded slowly and dipped his head in an attempt to hide the heat in his cheeks. Animals were created by Epimetheus before man, and yet man was the dominant species.

Calliope’s precious smile widened. “I know. You see, the audience may be able to relate to the gods if they do in fact look like humans, but as you say, these gods and Titans are far greater than us. If no one is our equal in the film, the audience will have a hard time relating to it. Please continue.”

 Hesiod dipped his head. “Cronus…” The word came out hoarse and scratchy. He cleared his throat. “Cronus and his sister, Rhea, marry and have many children. But, their parents–Gaia and Uranus–prophesied that Cronus would be replaced by one of his sons. So every time Rhea has a child, Cronus swallows the baby–”

“He swallows his babies whole?” Calliope held a questioning glance.

“Yes.”

  “Honestly, I cannot tell if you are joking or not…”

“There is nothing to joke about.” Hesiod scrunched his brow. “Cronus straight up devours his babies.”

“Uh… Okay… First point: who would eat, and let me really emphasize the word, eat, their own babies regardless of the reason?” Hesiod opened his mouth to respond, but Calliope cut him off. “Second point: how is that even physically possible?”

Hesiod shook his head. This woman doubted the integrity of his story. “Cronus is a Titan, the main villain, the antagonist of the story. This act shows to what lengths he will go to ensure that he remains in power. As to your second point, Titans are giants. He is twenty-five feet tall. Swallowing something as small as a baby would be easy for him.”

Calliope recoiled from Hesiod’s words as if they were the stupidest things she had ever heard. “This Cronus is eating Titan babies. So from your logic, the babies should be giant as well. You know, proportionality? Anyway, there is nothing you can do to argue this. We are not going to have some giant evil Titan on-screen swallowing babies whole, because one, it is not physically possible, and two, that is just crazy.”

Hesiod felt anger broiling deep inside, but he held it in. Again, Calliope made some good points. “You are right.” He gave in, and the producer exchanged a smile in return.

“An orphanage.” Calliope said. It was a statement, not a suggestion. “Cronus will take the babies to an orphanage in a disgusting green swamp run by three wicked old matrons named Deino, Enyo, and Pemphredo. Rhea will not know this though, she will think her husband killed the babies.”

Hesiod wanted to argue that there were no orphanages in this time… but then he remembered that Gaia created humans to inhabit the land. “G-good idea.” Calliope was busy scratching something down on a sheet of paper with her red pen, so Hesiod continued on. “By the time Rhea is pregnant with her sixth child, she decides she must act, for she cannot bear to lose another to her evil husband. After seeking advice and aid from her mother, Rhea bears her sixth child, Zeus, in secret, and then takes a stone, wraps it in swaddling cloths, and uses it to trick Cronus.”

For a moment, Hesiod thought he was safe, that this portion of his story could remain unchanged, but when Calliope lifted her face from the paper she looked as unimpressed as ever. “This Cronus is a real idiot if he can mistake a rock wrapped in some cloth for a baby. Rocks and babies do not have much in common.” She shook her head to herself. “And you were going to have Cronus eat this rock, and still not notice anything.” She laughed. “Evidently rocks and babies taste the same.”

“Uhh…” Now that Hesiod thought about it, it did sound a little stupid. Just a little. “Well, Cronus isn’t eating the rock, so he won’t notice the difference in flavour. He will take it to the orphanage…”

 “So while all the other Titan babies are growing up into giant young men and women, this little rock is going to stay exactly that–a round and grey lump of earth.” Calliope sighed. “Instead, Gaia could trick her husband by stealing a dead baby from the humans, show it to him, and say that she suffered a miscarriage. I can see by the look on your face, that you again do not agree with me, Hesiod. But Rhea is a Titan, and to her, the puny humans are nothing. Remember this is your story, it is not based on true facts or anything, so you get to choose how the characters act. If it meant saving her own son, Rhea would have no trouble causing harm to the lesser beings.”

Calliope was right. Again. Hesiod gathered himself and continued. “Rhea hides her baby, Zeus, in a cave on a mountain in Crete where he is raised by nymphs and a she-goat, Amaltheia–”

            “A goat?”

            “Yes.”

“No. Zeus is brought up on a farm in Canada where he is raised by two lovely farmers and cares for his pet goat, Amaltheia.”

“Canada?” Hesiod exclaimed. “Canada didn’t become a country until 1867.”

“Yes, Canada is a nice place with nice people. It would make the perfect spot for a loving mother like Rhea to hide her son.”

The idea was absurd to Hesiod, but the longer Calliope looked at him with that all-so heavenly gaze of hers, the more sensible it became. “Yes, yes, of course. Canada.” He nodded and took a moment to recreate the story in his head. “So Zeus grows up thinking he is a normal boy, living a normal life in Canada. This peaceful life lasts for years. When he has nearly reached manhood, Zeus is visited by his true mother in a dream, telling him who he really is and that he must defeat his evil father, Cronus. Zeus leaves his family in Canada and travels– ”

 “That’s not enough.” Calliope stopped him. “A dream is not enough to convince a normal boy who has been living a normal life for eighteen-or-so years to leave his family and set off on some magical quest. He has no reason to believe this dream. Give him one.”

Hesiod nodded. “Okay, so Cronus notices Rhea’s visit to this human family and believes she must be plotting against him. He thinks she plans on producing a half-human, half-Titan child that will be the one to overthrow him as told in the prophecy. In his rage, Cronus destroys the farm, killing everyone except Zeus who happened to be in the nearby woods walking Amaltheia, his pet goat. Now Zeus believes the dream. He needs to find Cronus and avenge his family’s death. It turns out that Amaltheia is secretly the Titaness Metis in disguise as an animal who was sent by her sister Rhea to watch over her son and aid him when the time came.”

Hesiod paused and waited for Calliope to say something, to mock his idea or make some other preposterous change to his story. But surprisingly, her face remained buried in her papers, so he went on. “Being the Titaness of wisdom, Metis helps Zeus formulate a plan to defeat his father. She tells him to… oh, dang…” Hesiod cursed in his head. This next scene was supposed to be a big shock to the crowd, to leave their eyes wide and jaws hanging. But no. Calliope had taken all chances of that away. “I was going to have Metis make Zeus a toxic potion to give to his father, and when he drank it, Cronus was going to vomit up the babies he ate all those years ago, who are now fully grown into gods like Zeus–”

Hesiod’s words were engulfed by a spurt of hysterical laughter, and when she finished, Calliope was left gasping for air. “Honestly, Hesiod”, she said between breaths, “your original tale is so absolutely absurd… that I find it amusing. You know what… I say we just stick with it. Who knows? This piece may go down in history… as one the most ridiculous films of all time.”

Hesiod smiled for the first time since he entered the room. Oh, it will go down in history alright. Just not the way you think. In a final stand, he managed to convince even Calliope that his piece of work was truly an Epic. The Theogony would become the basis for the creation history of the Greek Gods, and Hesiod, would be famous.

Please Leave a Like and Consider Following if you enjoyed, and feel free to comment your thoughts!

References

GreekBoston.com. “Creating the First Creatures to Live on Earth.” ICal, 4 Mar. 2016, www.greekboston.com/culture/mythology/creating-creatures-earth/.

Johnblack. “Greek Mythology and Human Origins.” Ancient Origins, Ancient Origins, 16 Sept. 2014,www.ancient-origins.net/human-origins-folklore/greek-mythology-and-human-origins-0064.

“Mythology.” The Beginnings – Creation,             www.cliffsnotes.com/literature/m/mythology/summary-and-analysis-greek-mythology/the-beginnings-8212-creation.

“The Creation.” Greek Mythology,           www.greekmythology.com/Myths/The_Myths/The_Creation/the_creation.html.

“Theogony.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 29 Feb. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theogony.

“The Titans.” The Titans, Elder Gods, First Divine Rulers – Greek Gods, www.greek-gods.org/Titans.php.

“Titans.” Mythology Wiki, mythology.wikia.org/wiki/Titans.

4 thoughts on “A Modern Creation – Theogony Short Story

    1. thank you! And the classics courses were definitely some of my favourites–your classes got me even more interested in the subject (especially the epic fantasy capstone one)

      Like

  1. Certainly a unique reinterpretation of the original. If people are interested they will read the Greek mythological story. You have a very bright mind to throw in the current movie concept . Well done Jace this was fun to read.

    Liked by 1 person

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