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"Bios of the Gods" is a collection of files documented by Layla Hassan on the Isu and individuals she encountered while reliving the memories of the misthios Kassandra in Elysium, the Underworld and Atlantis in 2018.

Files

So here's the Greek mythology rundown, for the Assassins who might have been asleep in classics class. Zeus, king of the gods and bringer of storms, gets together with Demeter, goddess of the harvest. Sounds like a weird match, but compared to Zeus' track record this was actually kind of healthy. They have a daughter, Persephone, who's supposed to be beautiful, pure, the whole maiden goddess bit. Hades, riding a chariot pulled by demonic immortal horses, gets his kidnap on and drags her down to the underworld. (That scene's a favorite subject of Victorian dude artists, to no one's surprise.) Anyway, Demeter throws a (totally justified) fit, stopping any plants from growing. Pretty soon, Greece is starving and mortals are begging for hostage negotiations. Hades agrees to return Persephone but claims a loophole: she's eaten a few pomegranate seeds, which counts as eating the food of the dead, so she's got to return for part of the year. To the ancient Greeks, that's where winter comes from. To the Isu, that's why a dysfunctional couple is warring over control of the underworld.

OK, even if you're a classics n00b, you know this one: a dude who posts gym selfies kissing his biceps? That's an Adonis. The Adonis of mythology was the handsome-but-mortal lover of Aphrodite. His background story is messed up even by mythological standards. His mother got on the wrong side of Aphrodite, who cursed her. I'll spare you the details, but her father gets her pregnant. Aphrodite felt maybe a little guilty about that, so she took Adonis to the underworld to be raised by Persephone. Years later, Aphrodite came back for Adonis and lo and behold, falls for his perfect physique. Persephone was already into him (I told you this was messed up), and the two divine women started arguing over who should get Adonis. Zeus (of all beings!) came up with a solution: Adonis would spend a third of his time with Aphrodite, a third with Persephone, and a third by himself to work on his cardio routine. Well, not quite, but it might explain why the Adonis Kassandra met was a little confused.

Oh gods, Hermes is a tough one to sort out even if you've studied up on this. Classically speaking, Hermes was the messenger of the gods. He's also a trickster and magician, lover of at least 40 goddesses, father of who knows how many divine kids, and a powerful warrior who defeated a hundred-eye beast. He's basically a mythological Marty Stu. The Isu Hermes seems to have been Pythagoras's advisor, which somehow trickled into Hermetic magic and the Golden Dawn. Good thing Aleister Crowley didn't know about Hermes' staff, or the Templars might have won this fight a century ago.

In ancient Greece, Hekate was the mistrusted but essential goddess of witchcraft, crossroads, and necromancy. She's the power you wanted to know, but didn't want other people to know you knew, if you know what I mean. When Persephone was kidnapped by Hades, Hekate helped Demeter to find her daughter. Then, when Persephone had to return to the underworld each year, Hekate offered to accompany her. That kind of sisterhood endures, and even today modern Wiccans keep literal fires burning for her. As for the Isu Hekate, if science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic, then her science must have been some of the best.

Now, when I mention Hades, know I'm talking about Hades, not Hades. Yeah, see the issue when a place shares the same name as you? Hades (the god) was born to a couple of Titans and has some pretty well known siblings like Hera, Zeus and Poseidon. Of course, as soon as they were born, their dad swallowed them whole for reasons I'm sure made sense in his head. Zeus was the youngest to be born and freed his swallowed siblings. After a victorious war between them and the Titans, Hades, Zeus, and Poseidon divided up the realms to rule. Hades ended up getting the underworld, and he wasn't exactly stoked, but fair is fair when lots are being drawn. The rest of the Isu don't seem to trust him much, but like his mythological counterpart, Hades seems to be a mostly chill and passive dude. You know, except for the time he abducted Persephone while she was picking flowers and took her as his wife because Zeus said it was cool.

If you died in ancient Greece, you had better hope not only that there were people around who would bury you, but that they placed a coin on or in your mouth. If not, have fun wandering the shores of the Styx for one hundred years. Seems a bit harsh if you ask me, but rules are rules, and Charon follows them. Charon's father is Erebus, basically a personification of darkness. Then there's his brothers, Thanatos and Hypnos, the personification of death and sleep, respectively. Charon, on the other hand, is just Charon. I'm not sure if he did something to anger daddy Erebus, but he's clearly not the favorite. On the bright side, in the myths, Charon's been able to meet a bunch of famous people like Odysseus, Dionysus, and Herakles, kind of like a taxi driver for the gods. The Isu Charon seems to fit that bill, though I have to wonder why he hasn't started up a rideshare business yet.

Poseidon. Brother to Zeus, Hades, Hera, and more. God of the sea and earthquakes. Huh? Horses too? OK. He almost became the patron god of Athens, which I guess would have ended up being called Poseidos had Athena not won their competition. Hot tip, if you're ever in a similar wager, offer an olive tree to a city and not salt water. Poseidon wasn't the most gracious of losers and really leaned into the angry god persona, and sent a massive flood to punish the Athenians for not choosing him. If anything, that probably reassured them they made the right choice. One of Poseidon's sons was Atlas, the first ruler of Atlantis. The Isu Poseidon wanted to rule Atlantis himself, which true to Poseidon's style, left Atlas feeling awfully salty (I'll let myself out).

There's a good chance that when you think of Atlas, the image of a Titan holding the world on his shoulders enters your mind. The Isu Atlas isn't that Atlas, but the one born to Poseidon. Honestly, you'd think they'd at least try to use different names. Even Atlantis is just Atlas' name with a few letters thrown in the middle. But I digress. In mythology, Atlas was the firstborn to a mortal woman named Cleito. She actually gave birth to five set of twins, which is insane, but I guess when the dad's a god, it becomes a bit easier to take care of them... Unless that god is Zeus, in which case, I'm sorry. As for the Isu version, Atlas did indeed rule Atlantis for a time, but as we know, Poseidon took it for himself. It's believed when this happened, Atlas simply shrugged.

Trivia

  • The line in the entry for Hekate that reads "if science sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic" is an almost exact quotation of the third and most famous of Clarke's three laws, adages coined by the science-fiction author Arthur C. Clarke regarding technology and the future.
  • The line in the entry for Atlas that reads "Atlas simply shrugged" is a reference to Ayn Rand's novel, Atlas Shrugged.

Reference

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