Why Greek mythology is like your neighborhood bar.

The Greeks from the classical era were remarkable at tying things together. Their plays fit nicely into one room on one day, and they always come to some satisfying–if rarely merry–resolution, in which no mysteries remain unsolved. Most characters appear in multiple plays and multiple myths, and if not them then some family member pops up. The fictional pawns of classical lore are all part of one big screwy lineage, full of heroes, monsters, and human/deity half-breeds.

Discovery of the day: Achilles was the son of the king of the Myrmidons, Peleus the Argonaut (meaning he was besties with Jason), and the immortal sea-nymph Thetis. Thetis was like a super-nymph: she knew everybody. She saved Hephaestus when he was cast out of Olympus by Zeus; she protected Dionysus from angry Edonians; and she helped guide the Argonauts away from the Sirens and Charybdis & Scylla. She even saved Zues’s ass from a coup! So of course Zeus and Poseidon wanted her bad. Fortunately for her (knowing how relationships with Zeus usually unfold), there was a prophecy that her son would be mightier than his father, and Zeus (remembering his own little rebellion against his father) wanted none of that. Yadayadayda. This isn’t even the interesting bit. This is just genealogy!

What I discovered is that it was at the wedding reception for Peleus and Thetis that a pissed off Eris (Discord) tossed that golden apple (for which Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite competed) that was the ultimate catalyst for the Trojan War! So, in a sense, Achilles was there at the beginning AND at the end of the Trojan war (although he died before the war ended). Nice job, Greeks! Way to go with the whole closing the circle thing. Of course time is a bit wonky. Achilles didn’t become the glory-warrior of the War when he was in diapers; he was a ripe old 15. He had to have time to train with Chrion, the wise, civilized, and decidedly sober centaur, who ALSO happens to know everyone and their mom. He trained Ajax, Aeneas, Jason, Peleus, Telamon, Heracles, and Dionysus, and those are just the names I recognized. Love it! High-five, Homer!

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