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Fiction and Reality of Mount Olympus

I was very young when I visited Olympus for the first time. It happened during our early vacation in the region back then in eighties of the previous century. I vividly remember there was a dangerous dirt road with not much room for two vehicles to pass by, ending near to the one of the mounting homes with embedded small tavern which can really print on its portfolio that was built on the top of gods' heavenly entrances. For some fairly strange reasons, Coca Cola and Souvlaki on the tavern's terrace felt really tasty, just as the pure and clean water from the water stream just next to it. Unfortunately and despite of all of my efforts, I couldn't see or find anything divine or out of worldly items or even a glowing shiny rock. There were no gods whatsoever. Or naked muses. Or beasts with snakes instead of hair. Or horses with wings. Or mighty heroes. Nothing. Well, I was only 10 years old. What did I know.. Maybe that pair of hawks we saw flying around the highest rock across the tavern and screeching in high tones were actually Apollo and Artemis arguing about something.

On the other end, it might be that I visited Olympus during gods' withdrawal. Way too early...

But, before I continue with the actual glimpse to the modern Olympus fiction and short reviews of one hilarious book and one extraordinary comic, I think I need to write a word of two about the photo I embedded above, which might be interesting to read. This is in fact the mount of Olympus (just like the highest peak shown from the air in the post header). The most famous mountain in the entire world. The mighty one. It is not the highest of them all - just slightly lower than 3K meters and not even the highest in the entire Balkans, but it was the one chosen by gods to built their own abode during the ancient times. Sitting just next to Aegean Sea, it is the first sight you see when you travel from Thessaloniki to Athens in nowadays Greece. I took this image in 2010, from the beach in the sea resort of Leptokarya, described by Wikipedia as "the former seat of East Olympos municipality, which is part of the municipality of Dio-Olympos". During my countless visits of northern Greece in past several decades, and all of them during summer holidays, believe it or not, all of my Olympus photographs ended with similar heavy stream of clouds above mountain peaks. It is like Olympus is always hidden in clouds by some weird meteorological reasons. Well, that was not entirely true as I have seen Olympus naked in the occasion or two, but still it was not often. It's like Olympus is attracting the clouds and capturing them to stay and hide it's peaks.

This summer, almost forty years after my first excursion to the famous maintain, we took the perfect opportunity to board a tourist bus and venture their Olympian route following new paved roads carrying people to the multiple resorts within mounting base and visiting Olympus' main attractions. At least to the point where road limits heavy buses to proceed. The tour included town of Litochoro, famous Bath of Zeus, Agios Dionysios Monastery and Old Panteleimon, picturesque mountainous village on the slopes of the mountain. Surely seeing the sites with your own eyes has no alternative and the next best thing is to check couple of those travel guides and stories you can stumble online, but as far as this post is concerned, I will leave it to my son Viktor to tell you all about it in his channel's video log we both filmed this August. If you find it pleasing, you know the YouTuber's drill - please like and subscribe... ;-)

The mountain definitely contain a beautiful charm of its own, but we all know that Olympus is best known for its part in Greek mythology and with all its ancient fiction it inspires writers all over the world ever since. With some of them, the thin line between fiction and nonfiction is not really visible at once but in the case of Michael G. Munz's amazing novel called 'Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure' one would say it is all about fiction and laugh out loud (LOL) moments. The gods in this comedy returned from their withdrawal after more than two thousand years with all of their entourage and got back to the active and mutual life with mortals. And they returned with a twist.

What is the most interesting about old Greek gods, compared to all of the modern religions of today is that their godhood was not that estranged from their creation like it is now the case with all of those Jerusalem monotheistic beliefs. Greek gods loved to mingle with mortals. And by mingle, you know what I mean, which is especially true with Zeus (probably Dionysis too). In fact, within the opening chapters of the novel, Apollo defined it best when he said that "Gods are just like mortals, only ... better." And that means with everything that we can use to describe ordinary people, including conspiracies, hatred, intelligence, stupidity, love, sex, affairs, ... It's like the Greek gods possess everything good and bad we mortals experience on daily bases, only theirs is enhanced and powered off the charts. And of course, they could change appearances into hawks.. and to do other magical stuff. So, by establishing that we can safely say that all the gods in the "Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure" are more than just divine creatures. They are active characters in the story and along with amazing Michael's narrative, that is playing with the reader on numerous occasions are something that gives this book, at least for me, the originality I have never experienced before. The humor is everywhere, especially in the narrative, that on many points require fair amount of reader's geekery and knowledge of ancient mythology. I'll stop here with no further spoiler and only my warm recommendation.

As for the other media dealing with Olympian myths, there are numerous movies and among them "Clash of the Titans" and "Wrath of the Titans" with Perseus played by Sam Worthington and Liam Neeson as Zeus. They were not that bad movies at all, despite all my reservations and best of all the script of the second movie offers the answer to the ultimate question of how and why gods from Olympus ended their presence on Earth. Of course Henry Cavill as Theseus in "Immortals" was also one of the visually great movies with heavy usage of old Greek myths and Olympian gods in main roles.

On the other hand, the world of graphic novels never disappoints and Rick Riordan's novels with Percy Jackson adventures recently, after debuts with two motion pictures, transferred into extraordinary enjoyable comics. The world of demigods in so far two graphic books looks very nice and, I have to admit, much appealing than in movies. Perhaps because reading comics was my first love from the early childhood and/or maybe because these two books were my first comics reading with Kindle way of presenting graphic novels but nevertheless if you are into Olympian myths and love great fiction emerged from old tales my recommendation for Riordan's "Heroes of Olympus" series with "The Lost Hero" and "The Son of Neptune" goes without saying.

zViktor22 YouTube Channel

Zeus Is Dead: A Monstrously Inconvenient Adventure

The Lost Hero: The Graphic Novel

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