It is no secret that I love mythology. Over the years I have read and re-read many myths, and yet I still recall the very first one. It’s about the crow. Let me share it with you….
She was princess Coronis, daughter of Phlegys, King of Lapiths. And yet she stood on the dias, speechless. He told her father that he loved her and wanted to be with her. On some level she recognized that he never mentioned marriage, but she was too shocked to give voice to it.
Had any other come to the palace and made such an offer, to have the daughter of the king as a concubine, his head would be gracing a spike along the palace walls. But this was no mere man. This was Apollo, the god of medicine and healing, music and poetry. And he desired her.
So she did as her father commanded. She submitted to Apollo. He was handsome enough and the novelty of it all glimmered like gold for many months. Eventually she became pregnant. She shared this news with Apollo who seemed genuinely happy about it.
But he was gone so often. Apollo had eternity, an so did not realize what the separation did to his new consort, a human, confined to a finite span of years. Any peers that she had were no more. She was the consort of a god. And those she counted among friends now visited her with tongues filled with poison. They cast their darts, wicked words that stung and left her in tears. She was so lonely It was this loneliness that led her to the arms of Ischys, son of Elatus. He was kind and gentle. And she loved him. She had never loved Apollo. She had been fascinated by him, but she had never loved him.
They kept the affair quiet. But such things are hard to keep secret. Apollo had given her a pair of crows as a gift. Her name, Coronis, meant crow. She could tell no one of her love for Ischys, but she could tell her crows. She loved the birds and would often stroke their soft downy white feathers while she extolled the virtues and virility of her lover. Those confidences would be her undoing
The crows, being the pets of Apollo, took the news back to him, but he did not believe them. So, he cursed the crows for telling lies, instantly their feathers turned from downy white to deepest black.
The seed of doubt had been planted, and so the son of Zeus watched. He watched as his beloved Coronis met Ischys in a glen. He watched them lay down together. Then he could watch no more. Devastated, he poured out his anguish to his twin sister, Artemis.
Artemis, enraged on behalf of her brother, killed Coronis and threw her body on the funeral pyre. Apollo killed Ischys in the glen where he and Coronis had been meeting. Coming to stand beside Artemis at the funeral pyre Apollo took sympathy on the unborn child and saved it from the fire. He was sure it was his, but did not have the heart to raise a child by her.
He gave the child that he named Asclepius to the centaur Chiron. He instructed Chiron to teach him about medicine and healing. To the crows that he had cursed he made the bird sacred. Giving it the task of announcing important deaths in an effort to make amends for his disbelief.
In all of my reading I have yet to find a happy ending in Greek Mythology. And still the stories call to me, and hold me in thrall. The next story to capture me was the myth of King Lykaonas of Arcadia.
Lykaonas was the father of 50 sons. They were bold and proud and thought themselves better than most, and denied themselves nothing. They invited Zeus to a dinner party. Zeus came, but he had neglected his people. They were angry and they wanted a sign of his blessing. Proof of his divinity.
A human child was sacrificed and baked into the pie that was served to the god. Upon tasting it the god immediately knew what it was. He became enraged. ‘Because you have behaved like an animal, so shall you become!’ Then Zeus spoke the curse that had those gathered at the party shaking in fear. Where once the mighty king stood, now sat a great shaggy beast. Wolf.
Because the king had been a faithful follower, Zeus granted him a small reprieve. If the king abstained from eating human meat for nine years he would be returned to his human form.
Then Zeus collected all the pies, but there was not enough left of the sacrificed boy to revive him. And so, the father of all the gods made a memorial to the boy in the heavens. A constellation that the king would see whenever he hunted at night. Forever reminding him of his foolishness for attempting to trick a god.
It is from this myth that the term Lycanthropy takes its name. And it is this myth that inspired my novel Lykaia, book one of the SophiaKatsaros series. In Lykaia, Dr. Sophia Katsaros receives a cryptic phone call from Greece. Her brothers that had been vacationing there are missing. In an effort to find them she becomes entangled in a 5000 year old mystery surrounding the ancient king of Arcadia. Along the way she is forced to accept that there are more things in the world than can be explained. Including the possibility that one or both of her brothers have become Wolf during an ancient ritual call the Lykaia.
I had a great time writing Lykaia and am now working on book 2: Erato. In this book Sophia is back, as is the Lykaonas pack. In book 2 the wolves are being hunted and based on the events of the last book, Sophia is the main suspect. The pack’s enforcers are sent to eliminate her. In an effort to protect those she loves she makes a deal with the alpha to help find the killer.
What remains to be seen is if she can find the killer before the enforcers find her....