My parents liked sci-fi and fantasy, ’70s guitar rock, scantily-clad girls with swords, and barbarians with steroid-grade muscle. (Looking at you, Conan.) They were big on symbolism, superstition, Chinese kung-fu theater, and movies that weren’t appropriate for kids but let my brother and I watch anyway. The Ancient World? As my very Italian in-laws would say, fuggedaboutit. I was going to love Greece (and Egypt, Israel, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, etc). After my mother saw Clash of the Titans with Laurence Olivier and Maggie Smith, I really had no choice in the matter.
And that is what makes THIS guest post so exciting. VC Birlidis, author of Muse Unexpected, is here to tells us ALL about his ten favorite Greek characters ever. (Isn’t that cruel of me? I mean, how does a bona fide Greek guy sift through the awesomesauce to pick just 10?) Let’s see what he thinks!
Take her away, V!
You can’t start a list of favorite Greek characters without listing Medea
. She was beautifully flawed, strong,…well, actually completely mad. Now that’s irresistible.
Electra, the ninja assassin. I know… It’s a guy [thing] and she’s totally cool. Her being the love interest to Daredevil, yet her violent nature causes great conflict… it’s beautiful. I even liked the movie with Jennifer Gardner.
Ernst Stavro Blofeld – The super-villian all super-villian are measured by, from the James Bond novels. He is so over-the-top and beyond ridiculous that I can’t help but love him. (Wendy here. Blofeld was the inspiration for Dr. Evil and his cat, Mr. Bigglesworth.)
Another James Bond character who is so incredibly dynamic and tragically flawed is Electra King. She spends a great deal of the time playing the victim and yet she turns out to be the master-villian. Such great fun.
Hera, the vengeful wife of Zeus. So incredibly cruel, she makes most villains seem like Suzy Sunshine. There is a certain vulnerability with Hera that makes you think there is hope for her, and then she goes and attacks Perseus. Not very nice.
The Death of Orpheus
– He loved his wife so much he travelled to the Underworld to save her. And his lack of trust is the undoing of them both. Such a tragic love story and such a strong, committed husband.
Hades – Poor Hades. He’s sent to the Underworld to rule the dead. Talk about a bleak environment. Then he sees this beautiful woman, Persephone, immediately falls in love and drags her down to the Underworld. I’m assuming he did this in hopes that she would bring to his life some much needed beauty. And the poor God let his lust get the better of him because Persephone turns out to be quite the fish wife. I’m always one for the underdog.
Medusa – A tragic character, damned by the evil Athena for something out of her control. (She was raped by Poseidon in Athena’s temple.) I’ve often found it interesting that Medusa and the other Gorgons didn’t seek people out to murder. They were sought out by others to kill the “monsters”. the story of the gorgons appears to be an ongoing narrative of the value placed on women during ancient Greece times, while also demonstrating the jealousy felt woman to woman. It’s a narrative that unfortunately continues today, which makes Medusa one of my favorite Greek characters. It also drove me to place the Gorgons in a better, flattering light.
Nia Vardalos’ character Toula Portokalos from my Big Fat Greek Wedding. I felt her pain, growing up Greek and the craziness associated with it. Although I wanted to kill Nia after the 100th person asked me if adults were baptized in a baby pool. Dear lord!
Captain Birlis – An ancestor of mine, who is mostly unknown. While traveling in Greece with my Father, we visited a monastery that had an Icon of the Virgin Mary that was rumored to have cried. While there, a very small Nun was giving us a tour and she asked what our name was. My father said it was Birlidis, originally Birlis. My Pappous (Grandfather) had changed our last name when he came over on the boat. He felt Birlis wasn’t greek enough. She then told us about a Captain Birlis, who had a legend attached to him. He was a ship captain, during ancient Greece, who’s ship was sinking. (don’t know the reason why. I think it had to do with hitting hidden rocks.) the ship began to fill with water, and with impending death, they all kneeled down on the ship’s deck and began to pray. It is said the Virgin Mary appeared to them with the Baby Jesus in her arms, and told them not to fear and that she would help them. She dove off the side of the boat, yes, with the Baby Jesus, and all of a sudden the water stopped coming into the hole. It is told that a giant sea sponge had lodged itself into the hole, allowing the ship the time to make it back to land. In celebration of this, Captain Birlis commissioned a candle, the same size of the ship’s mast and donated it to the monastery in thanks of the Virgin Mary saving them. The candle remained intact, at the monastery until a major earthquake destroyed it, but apparently pieces of it are still kept at the monastery.
“We’re Muses. Not vampires, not fairies, not werewolves. We’re Muses.” Sophie was sure her mother had reached an epic level of crazy. ‘We’re Muses?’ She thought Muses were lame, not to mention she found the idea ridiculous. However, Sophie couldn’t explain away her physical transformation that made Anne Hathaway in The Princess Diaries look like a bad Walmart make-over, not to mention why her mood swings triggered an uncontrollable ability to shoot powerful bursts of energy out of her hands.
Sophie soon realizes modern day Muses have evolved into powerful guardians of humankind, tasked with keeping mortals on the right path and the original Olympians locked away from the world. But old hatreds don’t die easily, especially for immortal enemies that have an eternity to plot and gather their forces. Well aware of the Fates’ foretelling of another Olympian war, and a young Muse that would rise up as a warrior and defeat them, the Olympians have vowed to either possess Sophie or destroy her. Either way, they will make sure everyone associated with their imprisonment will reap an eternal damnation in the Underworld, leaving the Olympians to restore Mount Olympus and force humankind into a future of never-ending servitude and misery.
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Praise for Muse Unexpected
“Ripe with conflict, skin-crawling creepy that is sprinkled with a wonderful sense of humor and a plot fraught with horrific danger in every step taken by Sophie, this book should be on the top of everyone’s must read list. Simply put, I loved it and can’t wait for book 2 to come out.” ~Olive (Amazon Review)
“I remember learning about mythology & Greek gods in elementary school….boring! Well, this fantastic book takes everything you thought about gods/mythology and turns it on it’s ear, sort of like “Wicked” did to the “Wizard of OZ”. At times funny at times gruesome and scary, this story definitely kept my interest. I loved the way the writer made the gods “human”. I also liked the subtle, blink and you’ll miss them hints sprinkled throughout the story. Don’t let the young adult genre scare you away. This is an engaging story that can be enjoyed by all. Can’t wait for the next one!!!!” ~Paula (Amazon Review)
Author V.C. Birlidis
V.C. Birlidis was born and raised in Miami, Florida and has always been involved in the arts. He attended the New World School of the Arts and was a member of The Miami Ballet.
Mr. Birlidis moved to Ohio to attend college where he earned his Bachelor’s degree in marketing and communications from Capital University. He currently is the Director of Marketing at one of the top midwest advertising agencies, SBC Advertising. He has freelanced as a writer for Outlook News and Tickled Pink Magazine, where he wrote a comical advice column named Ask V.
Five years in the making and inspired by the numerous Greek myths his father would utilize as demented bed time stories, Muse, Unexpected is Mr. Birlidis’ first novel. It is the first book in his Muse series.
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“Mom, step away from the mirror. Let me see what has happened to me.”
“But I need to explain first. It’s like this, some people may have a few additional doors open and because of those open doors, they have some extra abilities like being able to tell the future or being able to speak with the dead. Now, beings like us have the majority of our doors opened and our soul is expanded to allow us to do the things we can do. Otherwise, our soul would be ripped to shreds.”
Sophie’s arms shook; a searing heat building inside her as crackling electricity filled the air. “What has happened to me, Mom? I need to see.” She lifted her head; her eye’s meeting her mother’s. The heat was almost unbearable, burning in her eyes and moving toward her clenched fists. Her hands tingled and burned. She was sure they were going to explode.
Callie held firm. “Honey, calm down. You don’t have control of your emotions. It’s always difficult at first, but—”
Sophie was furious and she let whatever control she had slip away. Her eyes were burning through her mother, in an attempt to reach the covered mirror.
With a steady voice, Sophie said, “Let me see.” She shook her hands, in an attempt to shake off the heat pooling in them. Instead of feeling relief, the energy surged from her.
Callie threw herself out of the way, falling forward onto the floor as the energy burst hit the mirror, ripping the heavy curtains and massive iron rods off the wall and cracking the mirror from top to bottom. Sharp pieces of mirror rained down, as both women crashed to the floor.
“Ow!” The slivers of mirror glass sliced her palms. She grew silent watching the mirror-shards pushing themselves out of her skin. The cuts bled a little then stopped bleeding and healed before her eyes. She stood, afraid to move, trying to get her mind around what she was seeing.
“What the heck is wrong with me?” Sophie said, as she burst into tears.
Although a good portion of the mirror was destroyed, Sophie could still make out most of her reflection. She lifted her right hand and touched her face, realizing she was staring back at the girl from her nightmare. It was the girl who had pushed her into the grave.
This is more than just a little liposuction or a hair straightening. Am I a victim of an alien attack? Was this the work of body snatchers?
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