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The Old Gods

by Wallflower23


Dionysus runs a bar at the edge of the world. A skivvy dive in a bad part of town. It is dimly lit and occupied by a haze of smoke that never seems to dissipate. There is a layer of grime on every surface in the place and the bar never seems to be free of cigarette ash, peanut shells, and the sticky feeling of dried beer. Somehow most of the customers are in worse shape than the bar itself, with that sad distant look in their eyes that screams of a lifetime of misery. Dionysus brings you your drink before you order but he himself hasn’t touched the stuff in years. In his eyes you can see the sadness of every patron reflecting back.

Ares thrives in senseless wars and chaos. He watches bombs drop on innocents, hears the wailing of loss and agony. His spear has long since been replaced with a machine gun, his chariot with a tank. He sees men whose hearts are filled with hatred open fire on crowds and he wonders where the courage and honor of men went. The chaos of battle is changed. No longer do two opposing sides meet on a prescribed field. No longer do you see, do you feel the death of another man in front of you, no, now you push a button and hell descends from a thousand miles away.

Athena can be found between shelves of books and in lecture halls, and the classrooms of college campuses. She greedily devours the freedom of knowledge in this age. She tosses her hair and smiles broadly as she marches with wild opinionated students calling for change. These are her people.

Zeus sits at Dionysus’ bar every night until last call. His eyes are bloodshot and beard is scraggly, a sad reflection of the regal man he used to be. He shoots every girl at the bar the same slimy smile, causing the woman to cringe, clutch their purses closer, and slink away. His reign is long gone, he glares at every church he passes as he slogs home, unsuccessful yet again in his pursuits. He tries not to think of his wife.

Hera scrolls sadly through wedding and engagement photos posted on Facebook. Her heart aches for the happy smiling faces she sees staring back at her. She hopes that they will be happy, her heart breaks knowing that this will probably end. She wants to tell them that men will always lie. She wants to tell them to get out while they can. She wants to take her own advice.

Apollo chases after the sun, after that unreachable next horizon. He walks through the streets of the concrete jungle, looks up at the towers of glass, he misses a world made of marble, wood and brick, a world built to last. He seeks beauty in simplicity but is finding that life has become too complex for his poetry. He misses nature as he wanders through the paved cities where those who were once his people now dwell. He thinks of his sister, can feel her heart breaking from across the world.

Artemis runs through national parks, the only wild places left in the world. She tracks down poachers, she pulls her lips back from her teeth and snarls at them, like a wolf, while matching bullets with arrows, trying to save the only innocence left in the world. She hides from the moonlight now, knowing how a man might try to tame a wildness within her. She cries for the maidens robbed of their innocence.

Demeter counts down the days until her daughter returns. Though, the child never seems as happy to see her anymore. She watches as season gives way to season, and smiles at the children as they play in whatever they can find. When was the last time she saw that from her own daughter? When was the last time she felt loved by anyone? She cannot remember. But every once in a while, as she watches a family smile around a table of fresh food, she thinks she can almost feel the remnants of love churning from what she has provided for them. People will always need to eat.

Poseidon stands with hordes of environmental protestors outside oil companies or sits in on panels about global warming. He is the man with eyes like the sea and as deep with sorrow. He wanders the waves helping free every suffocating sea creature from the plastic warping their features. Sometimes he meanders along the shore with a bag of trash dragging behind him and salt tears in his eyes that mix with the ocean. Unlike Zeus, he has not lost the power he once wielded. When it all becomes too much, his anger swirls into storms capable of tearing this civilized world apart.

Hermes dashes through the streets of buzzing cities. He is young in this time. He watches as Amazon packages arrive in hours and laughs as messages are delivered in seconds. He relishes in the speed of this time, the way it is demanded of these people and marvels at the haste of it all. The sound of his chuckle echoing in the streets is the only indication he was there at all between one moment and the next.

Hades lays in bed, staring into the infinite darkness of the underworld, wife curled around him, and smiles. Faith is as fleeting as life, but death is ever present. People will always fear some form of him, and so, as the mantles of his brothers were slowly destroyed and forgotten, he has remained a king. His kingdom has grown ever larger after such great wars of this modern world. After all, death is eternal. He smiles.

Aphrodite has long since stopped relishing in the stolen touches of lovers. Their loving caresses quickly became too greedy, too expectant, and too harsh. Now she averts her gaze from wandering eyes and dodges the demanding roving hands that grab for any part they can get a hold of. Sometimes she sees Ares from across the room and they share a small sad smile. She walks home, alone, savoring the freedom she once felt and the crisp air. She is, yet again, subjected to the crass heckling of strangers. She clutches her keys between the fingers of one hand and pepper spray in the other as she hastens her nightly walk home. She smiles at the thought of her husband.

He was the only one who ever really loved her, loved her right. The only one who saw past the perfect packaging to the person beneath. Someone who saw no worth in herself beyond what she could give to someone else, the goddess of love who didn’t know how to be loved and couldn’t love herself. She had built her confidence on the desire that others had for her, but desire is a fleeting thing and once it was gone so was her value. He had helped build and forge her understanding of self-love unlike anyone else. He, the most hated god for his imperfect leg, who had to learn to love himself since no one else would, who had learned to use his body as a tool in spite of the deformity he was told would keep him from a life of meaning. He had been her salvation. He had been her home. He still was.

Hephaestus hobbles through his workshop. Hands worn and eyes weary. People always needed him. They need him more now, with their technologies and machines that were built improved but never meant to last. He will always be needed to help them progress, but he doesn’t think they understand what the word means anymore. He’s still invisible though. To them, to everyone. Everyone but her.

The old gods are us, the old gods are dead.


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7 Reviews


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Wed Oct 21, 2020 11:43 pm
cidrianwritersguild wrote a review...



I love how you portray Ares in this. It's the way ancient Greeks actually viewed him. Like, nowadays people see him as this warmongering psychopath who just want endless war, but you flip him around to show him as an honorable warrior who respects his fellow combatant. I really like that.
Although I fear you've not quite got Aphrodite right. She kind of hated her husband (Hephaestus the god of blacksmithing) cause he was massively deformed (he was thrown off Olympus by his mother, Hera, for the same reason) and she cheated on him with Ares.
Other than that, this story is really cool. I like the way you make it seem as though the gods are disappointed with how history turned out and now most of them have lost their power. That's a really cool take.




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21 Reviews


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Mon Oct 19, 2020 11:09 am
rida says...



I loved this! It was amazing!




User avatar
21 Reviews


Points: 321
Reviews: 21

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Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:49 am
rida says...



I loved this! It was amazing!




User avatar
21 Reviews


Points: 321
Reviews: 21

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Mon Oct 19, 2020 10:49 am
rida says...



I loved this! It was amazing!




rida says...


Sorry, I don%u2019t know why this always happens......:(



Wallflower23 says...


LOL no worries! Thank you so much for the comment! I am so glad you liked it!



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Mon Oct 19, 2020 5:24 am
Euphoria8 wrote a review...



Absolutely adored this short story! I love greek mythology so so much so it's so lovely to see it around here!

"Dionysus runs a bar at the edge of the world." This was the best way to open the story in my opinion!

The way you described the settings was also something I thoroughly enjoyed, I really felt like I was IN the actual story.

As for the gods themselves, I love that we don't just see them going about their day, we also get a sneak into their thought processes. And it's great to read how they still care for some of the gods they know, still remember them. I just found that a really sweet touch! Some of them ended up really bad, like Dionysus and Hephaestus (poor things) and some are right in their element, like Hermes and Athena! I like that factor as well, made everything a little more realistic!

Overall, an amazing read and I'm looking forward to more!
Thank you for sharing and keep growing <3




Wallflower23 says...


Oh goodness this was so wonderfully sweet it made me smile!

I'm really glad that you thought both the thought process and the setting was well developed! And yes most of the gods don't really have a positive existence now but I think that is the nature of the cultural development and their character folly as well. The Greek gods were always deeply flawed (in a human-like way) beings, so I feel like it makes sense that their stories would have become more tragic as they lost power and influence to other cults and monotheistic religious practices.

Additionally I wanted to create a sort of melancholic vibe for most of the text. IDK it was just the mood I was going for. And though many of the gods lives do not end up super positive, there are many who just have a mixed existence like the rest of humanity. Poseidon is heartbroken by the state of the environment but clearly still thinks it can be made better through intervention. Hephaestus was always a god that the others mocked, but he is still necessary to humanity and his wife loves him deeply. Aphrodite continues to struggle with a world order that is not kind to women but she has found solace in her husband and learned to love herself. I like the idea that maybe so many years of living has made them more human, or helped them find more meaning. Life is not all one thing, good or bad. It is a constant shifting mix, that even gods experience.

Thank you so much for the kind words! I really appreciate the feedback!



Euphoria8 says...


I'm so happy I brought a beam to your face!

Yes so true! The Greek Gods had so many flaws, committed so many mistakes, and it really goes to show that none of us are truly perfect!
I think I actually got a melancholic vibe throughout the story so it got in anyway XD but it's definitely not a bad thing, it's incredibly realistic in a way. And yess, their lives are so mixed, there's happy, they're sad! I was just thinking of Poseidon and Aphrodite when you mentioned that! It's really reflective of our lives too: none of our lives always happy and positive or always drenched and sorrowful, it's always a weird mix of both and I appreciated that spectrum in your story!

You're welcome <3



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Sun Oct 18, 2020 5:35 am
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ChrisDixon wrote a review...



Hello there~
I'm here for a short review. I love to read greek mythology! I think you wrote this really well, and ever since the start, I couldn't take my off this story until it ended. I greatly enjoyed reading this beautiful story and would love you to thank you for sharing this.

Suggestions

In his eyes you can see the sadness of every patron reflecting back.
[/qoute]

You need a comma after "In his eyes".

Zeus sits at Dionysus’ bar every night until last call.


You need "the" before "last call".

Apollo chases after the sun, after that unreachable next horizon. He walks through the streets of the concrete jungle, looks up at the towers of glass, he misses a world made of marble, wood and brick, a world built to last. He seeks beauty in simplicity but is finding that life has become too complex for his poetry.


You need a comma before "and", so "he misses a world made of marble, wood, and brick."

But every once in a while, as she watches a family smile around a table of fresh food, she thinks she can almost feel the remnants of love churning from what she has provided for them. People will always need to eat.


"a while" needs to be "awhile" I think.

He is young in this time. He watches as Amazon packages arrive in hours and laughs as messages are delivered in seconds.


I think it's "at this time" not "in this time".

He relishes in the speed of this time, the way it is demanded of these people and marvels at the haste of it all. The sound of his chuckle echoing in the streets is the only indication he was there at all between one moment and the next.


You need a comma after "people".

Faith is as fleeting as life, but death is ever present. People will always fear some form of him, and so, as the mantles of his brothers were slowly destroyed and forgotten, he has remained a king. His kingdom has grown ever larger after such great wars of this modern world. After all, death is eternal. He smiles.


"ever present" needs a hyphen between them. "fear some" is one word, so "fearsome". Oh, wait a minture, you also need "a" before "fearsome"!

She had built her confidence in the desire that others had for her, but desire is a fleeting thing and once it was gone so was her value. He had helped build and forge her understanding of self-love unlike anyone else. He, the most hated god for his imperfect leg, who had to learn to love himself since no one else would, who had learned to use his body as a tool in spite of the deformity he was told would keep him from a life of meaning. He had been her salvation. He had been her home. He still was.
[/qoute]

You need a "the" before "desire".

To them, to everyone. Everyone but her.
The old gods are us, the old gods are dead.


I very much like the ending although I must admit you need to change the last part a bit for readers that might be easily confused by it.

"The old gods are us, the old gods are dead" now if you just say it this way, a lot of people might translate it "The old gods are us and we are dead because the old gods are dead."

I think I might be guessing right but just to make sure who do you mean by "her" in the end? You mean "he" as "Hercules" in Aphrodite's story, right? Is this based on other stories, such as Rick Riordan's?

Thank so much for writings this!

Have a wonderful day!

~Chris




Wallflower23 says...


Thank you for all the feedback Chris! I really appreciate it seeing as grammar and syntax is clearly not my strong suit! I will try to get around to making these corrections but I really don't know when that may be!!

And to clarify for you the her in the end of Hephaestus' section is referring to Aphrodite (his wife). Aphrodite's section is in turn referring to her husband Hephaestus, not Hercules.

Most of this is based on my impressions of who the gods would be today, deriving their characters from the original stories of them (Iliad, Odyssey, Apollodorus, etc.). Though I did read Percy Jackson (and totally adored/was obsessed with it) this isn't really derived from Rick's version of the characters. I actually study classics so this is inspired by more of the original myth.

That being said, the portion on Hephaestus and Aphrodite was inspired a bit more from a fic I read once where they actually really loved each other. Idk it just really stuck with me, so I wanted to something similar. Here though I kinda went off the idea of starting with their not so great relationship/marriage from the OG myth and then tried to show them coming together and still being there for each other throughout the years causing their relationship to become stronger and more fortified. I also really loved the idea of Hephaestus teaching Aphrodite self love so ya. Thats sort of where this all came from.

Anyways! Thank you for the kind words and advice!




"My humanity is bound up in yours, for we can only be human together."
— Bishop Desmond Tutu