I grew up loving Greek mythology. I suppose since my dad was from Greece I felt like I had a strong connection to this history (or mythstory). To me, I felt personally connected to these myths and legends. My own name Sophia (Σοφια) actually means wisdom which, as many know, correlates to the Greek goddess Athena. Knowing that my name was in some way similar or related possibly to Athena was a thrill to me as a child. To the point where it influenced my love for owls (because, you know, the symbol for wisdom is Athena’s owl).

Besides my hereditary connection to the Greeks, my very first encounter with these myths was when I read both the Iliad and Odyssey in my freshman year of High School. My teacher had off handedly mentioned these long epic poems that told the story of Greek heroes and Gods. I don’t remember what she said exactly but whatever it was convinced me that I had to read them. After that day of school I went to the library and got a copy of each. In not too much time I finished each poem.

Reading Homer’s poems sent me onto a long journey to find my passion of Greek mythology. Every time I stepped into a bookstore or library I would look for books in the non-fiction section on mythology, or I would look for retellings or stories that were loosely based on Greek myths. I consumed myself and read anything and everything. To name a few, I read  Mythology by Edith Hamilton,  The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller, Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, The Complete World of Greek Mythology by Buxton, The Theogony by Hesiod, Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths by Bernard Evslin, and The Wisdom of Myths by Luc Ferry.

The most recent find I read was S. E. Diemer’s The Dark Wife a retelling of the classic story of Persephone and Hades. Diemer’s retelling changes the infamous Lord of the dead, Hades, to the goddess of the underworld. By switching Hades’ sex she was able to tell a whole different and unique story never told before (gayyyy).

I loved this story. I loved the idea that Hades could have been a woman. Now I know, you academics and myth/history buffs, that this is highly unlikely due to the numerous artifacts depicting these gods/goddess and their legends, however, the idea is still pretty fucking cool, which lead me to thinking:

What if the sex of all the Greek gods and goddesses were reversed?

What if all the male gods we know — Zeus, Poseidon, Hades — were actually female? What if all the female goddesses— Athena, Hera, Persephone— in these myths were actually male?

How would sex reversal change their stories? Would they become more powerful? Funny? Ironic?

I want to know.

So, in this blog I am going to retell the same stories that have been told and passed down for hundreds of years, but I am going to switch the sexes of each person. Besides telling the story in my own way and switching the characters sexes I won’t change anything else, not even the names.

Now, I’m willing to recognize this could totally botch the original myths.  This could make the stories confusing, or could make the stories unreadable. But, I’m going to doing anyway because, well, fuck it. I want to.

Let’s begin this MythOdyssey.

Hideous Hera: Father of Hephaestus

Hera, the son of Cronus and Rhea, was the husband of Zeus (who is also Hera’s sister) and was known as the god of marriage and family. Hera was most often known for his vengeful nature and his jealousy against Zeus, her lovers, and her illegitimate offspring. Because of Hera’s unhealthy dedication to his cheating wife, Hera became the symbol of monogamy and fidelity.

Hera was often involved with playing jokes and pranks on his wife, Zeus, and Zeus’ lovers. Hera was known for outwitting Zeus and creating cunning ploys out of jealousy (like the famous story of Io).

Together, Hera and Zeus had three children, Ares (the godess of war), Hebe (the god of youth) and Eileithyia (the god of childbirth), but Hera had another child, Hephaestus, without the help of his wife.¹

After Zeus gave birth to Athena, Hera’s jealousy ran rampant. Hera became determined to birth a child on his own in retaliation to Zeus. Hera wanted to birth a child so beautiful, talented, cunning, and smart that Zeus would forget all of her heroic bastard children and finally be committed to Hera and their legitimate children.

However, through his own means, Hera created a daughter, whom he called Hephaestus, who was so hideous and deformed, Hera, out of rage, grabbed Hephaestus by the foot and hurled her off the top of Mount Olympus like a frisbee.

Hephaestus fell from the mountain for two days and when she finally reached the ground she landed with extreme force that broke both of her legs. Hephaestus, unable to crawl, wracked with pain, and unable to die due to her immortality, cried softly until, finally, a huge wave picked her up and carried her to the bottom of the sea.

The sea-naiads, Thetis and Eurynome, saved Hephaestus and decided to raise the poor deformed goddess as their own. As Hephaestus healed and grew she began creating beautiful jewlery from sea shells and pebbles. Thetis was surprised to see such beaufitul art come from such a hideous and deformed child, but he was proud and felt honored to showcase Hephaestus’ work.

One day, Thetis went to a festival for the gods wearing a beautiful necklace Hephaestus had made. During the festival, Thetis ran into Hera, who quickly noticed the beautiful craftsmanship of Thetis’ necklace. When Hera inquired about his necklace, Thetis began to tell the story of the strange day Thetis found a child who had fallen from Mount Olympus.

Hera quickly realized the craftsman of the necklace was his daughter, Hephaestus. Hera spoke urgently to Thetis demanding that Hephaestus was her daughter and that she had to be returned to him and brought back to his home on Mount Olympus.

Thetis obeyed and Hephaestus was brought back to her father, Hera, on Mount Olympus. Hera “apologized” for casting Hephaestus off the mountain as a baby and he told Hephaestus that she could stay on Mount Olympus if she promised to make fine things for him. Hera then gave Hephaestus a broken mountain to work in, a Cyclopes as a helper, and promised Aphrodite as a husband.² Hephaestus quickly accpeted his apology and agreed to the terms out of pure love for her father. She said, “I know that I am ugly, Father, but the fates will have it so…I will make you gems so beautiful for your tapering arms and white throat and black hair that you will forget my ugliness sometimes and rejoice that you have taken me back from the sea.”³

Hephaestus became known as the crippled, deformed, goddess of craftsmanship, metallurgy and fire.4 She was the goddess of the smiths and she was skilled in working with iron, copper, gold, silver, and other metals that required fire. Hephaestus designed Hermes’ winged helmet and sandals, Aphrodite’s girdle, Achilles’s armor, Heracles’s clappers, Apollos’s chariot, Eros’s bow and arrows, and many other famous tools and gifts. Although, Hephaestus’ birth was rooted in vengefulness and neglect, she was a honest and kind goddess who loved creating items for her fellow siblings and other gods. Hephaestus became known as the most skilled in crafts than any other god or goddess.

1. Hesiod (Greek Epic C7th B.C.), Theogony. 921 ff
2. Evslin, Bernard (1966). “Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths”
3. Evslin, Bernard (1966). “Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths”
4. Houtzager, Guus (2003). “The Complete Encyclopedia of Greek Mythology”

Persephone’s Pomegranate Prison

After the battle of Cronus, Hades, the sister of Zeus and Poseidon, became the ruler of the dark realm of the Underworld. Due to Hades’ kingdom, she became known as the goddess of the Underworld or the Queen of the dead, however, she is not Death (Thanatos) herself.

Hades was a dark-haired, regal goddess who was known for being stern, unyielding, and unmoved by prayer or sacrifice like other gods. She rarely left her kingdom and she was often carrying her pitchfork, which she used to create earthquakes on Earth. Hades was also known as the goddess of wealth due to the hidden riches and metals that could be found only in the Underworld.

Since Hades’ main interests were increasing the subjects in her Kingdom she favored anyone whose deeds resulted in people dying, like the Erinnyes (the Furies).¹ Although Hades did not like very much company she did want a husband to become her King. Since Hades had trouble finding a god who was keen on living in the land of the dead, Zeus offered his son, Persephone, to be the husband of the goddess of the Underworld.²

Persephone, the son of Demeter and Zeus, was once known for being the god of agriculture, but after his abduction by Hades, he became known as the mistress of the kingdom of the dead.

Persephone was raised among nature along side his father Demeter, the god of the cornfield, planting, and harvesting. Hades was captivated by Persephone’s youth, beauty, soft nature, and delicateness. He looked like a flower in that his body was pliant as a stem, his skin was soft as petals, and he had pansy eyes.³ Persephone was often found in the glade collecting flowers, creating new types flowers, and naming them.

One day Persephone was playing in his glade and collecting flowers as he usually did. As he explored the glade he came upon a unique bush. Persephone was curious and excited to discover this plant, so he began to brush the leaves between his fingers as he searched for a name to call it. As Persephone stood touching the leaves and branches the ground rumbled beneath him. The plant began to grow. Larger and larger the plant grew until a large opening to a cave appeared.

Out from the cave rumbled two giant black horses carrying a monstrous golden chariot. Within the chariot sat Hades. Persephone fell backwards in fear as the horses strode forward. Hades, almost in a moment, saw Persephone, prized him and took him swiftly upon her chariot. As Hades abducted Persephone, his tunic ripped open in the front causing the flowers he collected to fall to the ground.4 Persephone, frightened and tearful, cried out for help to his father, Demeter, as Hades, Persephone, and the chariot disappeared into the cave, which, turned back into a bush leaving no trace to what had transpired except loose flowers scattered on the Earth.

Soon after Persephone’s abduction, Demeter became worried when his son hadn’t returned home. Demeter searched across the glade. He looked everywhere for his son, causing mayhem and destruction as he went. Eventually, Demeter spoke to the birds who told him that Hades had stolen Persephone.

Furious and sad, Demeter boarded his chariot and flew to Olympus to speak with Zeus and ask for justice for their son. Zeus, however, refused to allow Persephone to come home for she thought Persephone was a perfect match for Hades, and she refused to break a compact she had made with her sister, the Queen of the Underworld.

Demeter returned to Earth defeated and saddened. Unable to process his grief, all the crops began to die. Plants were unable to grow, animals became barren, and the land became cold and lifeless.

Meanwhile, in the Underworld, Persephone explored the dark realm. He resented Hades and dearly missed his father; however, after some time, he secretly became to like his new world and his abductor. Hades, at first abusive and mean, began to treat Persephone with kindness and affection. She lavished Persephone in gifts of rubies, diamonds, and of rare magical metals and flowers that could only be found in the Underworld. Hades frequently ordered her servants to create divine meals for Persephone to enjoy, but Persephone did not eat because he was unhappy and he missed his home.

Hades was desperate for Persephone to like her and to be happy, so she created a garden for Persephone to plant new and exotic flowers and greenery. Persephone worked in the garden and planted various forms of flowers he had never seen on Earth. Being in the garden reminded Persephone of home even though he ached for the warmth and light of the sun.

One day, Persephone walked to the garden and picked up a red pomegranate that grew there. Persephone’s mouth watered at the site of sweet juicy fruit. He hadn’t eaten since living on Earth with his father. Tempted by the sweet aroma, Persephone opened the delicious red fruit and plucked six seeds into his mouth.

Back on Earth the land lay barren. Crops didn’t grow, trees died, and people began to starve. Zeus, seeing the new state of Earth, summoned for Demeter. When Demeter arrived, Zeus asked him why he was neglecting his duties and allowing the Earth to suffer. Demeter told Zeus, while his son was gone “no tree will bear and no grass will spring.” He said, “while I mourn, the Earth will grow as dry and shriveled as my heart.”5

Hearing Demeter’s grief and taking his threat seriously, Zeus conceded. She decided to send Hermes, the messenger goddess, to retrieve Persephone from the Underworld and return him to his father.

As Hermes arrived at the garden in the Underworld, Persephone finish swallowing the six pomegranate seeds. Persephone was excited when he saw Hermes because he knew that Hermes was going to bring him home; however, Hermes told Persephone he was unable to bring him back to Earth due to an ancient law which states anyone who swallows food  in the Underworld would never be able to leave the Underworld. Since Persephone consumed the pomegranate seeds he was bounded forever to the dark kingdom. 

Although Zeus was a stickler for the ancient rules and laws he had to consider the current state of Demeter and the mortals of the Earth. Since Demeter was living in grief the Earth was still cold and lifeless. In order to please both Hades and Demeter, Zeus decreed that Persephone would spend six months out of the year (a month per seed that Persephone ate) with Hades, and he would spend the remaining six months on Earth with his father, Demeter.

Due to Persephone’s abduction, Zeus’ manipulation, Demeter’s grief, and, what I like to call, the pomegranate prison, people on Earth now have winter. Six months out of the year when Persephone lives in the Underworld nothing grows on Earth due to Demeter’s grief, but when Persephone returns home the world thrives with crops, flowers and greenery.

Persephone and Hades

Hades and Persephone

1.  “” – Hades, authored by Charilaos Megas
2.  “Greek Gods & Goddesses” – Persephone and Hades
3.  Evslin, Bernard (1966). “Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths”
4.  Ovid. “Metamorphoses,” V., lines 391-401
5.  Evslin, Bernard (1966). “Heroes, Gods, and Monsters of the Greek Myths”

The Birth of Athena, My Favorite

The birth of Athena began when Zeus, the goddess of the sky and the ruler of the Olympians, began to lust after the Titan, Metis (the son of Oceanus and Thethys); Metis was also known as the Titan of prudence and wisdom. Metis was uninterested in Zeus, so in Zeus’ (forced) lust, Metis changed form in order to evade her grabby hands.

First, Metis changed into a hawk and flew away escaping from Zeus. Next, Metis changed into a fish and dove into the ocean. Metis again transformed into a serpent and slithered away (he changed forms a lot). Although he had great attempts, Metis was unable to evade Zeus because she too was proficient in changing form, and like Metis’ determination to avoid her, Zeus was determined to win.

After a long cat and mouse chase, Metis finally relented. Zeus obtained Metis, sexually.

Soon after she left him, the wind rustled, animals moved, and Zeus heard the making of a prophecy. An Oracle named Gaea prophesied: “Oh, Zeus, Metis will have his first child, a boy child. But if he has another, it will be a daughter who will dispose you as you disposed Cronos.”¹

Out of fear of being defeated, Zeus took this warning to heart. When Zeus saw Metis again, she flattered him, lead him on, and when he was feeling safe and comfortable, Zeus opened her mouth and swallowed Metis and the unborn child whole.

After some time, Zeus developed an agonizing headache; the worst headache ever to have existed (serves her right for being an asshole, if you ask me). Zeus’ unbearable headache made her yell so loudly it could be heard throughout the Earth. Zeus, surrounded by other Gods, shouted for Ares, the goddess of war, who came with a hammer and wedge.

Ares used the hammer and wedge to crack open Zeus’ skull in attempt to alleviate her headache. As soon as Ares used the wedge she jumped back frightened, because out of Zeus’ head, sprang a tall, fully-grown god bathed in armor holding a long spear.

Athena, the grey-eyed, wide-browed god was born. Strong and wise he became the god of wisdom, intelligence (having been literally birthed from a brain), and military victory. In addition to being the god of wisdom, he also became known as the god courage, inspiration, and strategic warfare.

Athena taught the people of Earth how to invent things (like the ax), how to spin and weave, and how to understand science of numbers. Athena became known for hating Ares, and he took great pleasure in beating her on the battle field. Often, warriors would look to Athena for strategic guidance as did judges in the courts for wisdom.² Athena was the most wise god of all the Olympians.

Birth of Athena

Sex Swap: The Birth of Athena

1 – 2: Adapted from Bernard Evslin’s “Heroes, Gods and Monsters of the Greek Myths”