Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus

I’m writing here about what I cared about when I was younger: the Otherworlds of Olympus and Underworld. Most are aware of their existence, but few have any detail, and fewer still can really imagine Olympus, thus my focus today. Part of me would really like to post instead about the world of the Othered silent ancient Greek women, children, and low-status people who never seemed to make more than a cameo in any serious story, but as that is more mundane than the intent I read in Mahud’s invitation, I will save the inspiration for another post.

Horae Serenae, by Sir Edward Jones PoynterWhen Aphrodite was ushered to Olympus by the Horai, what did she see? I always imagined a house on a mountain, like the rich folks in California or Cuzco’s summer palace in The Emperor’s New Groove, but apparently the ancient Greeks didn’t catch that movie. For them the world was a disc with the vault of heaven (including the paths of the sun and moon) above it and Olympus, truly in the Heavens, above that. So, Mt. Olympus both signified the mountain and the sky, and both were the home of the Gods at once. To quote Harris and Platzner, “For many Greeks, the gods’ ultimate home was Mount Olympus; like the ziggurat, Olympus served as an earthly pedestal to which divine beings could descend.”

Yes, yes, but what did it look like?  Well, for one thing, it was sunny. Homer (Il. 749) tells us there was never wind or rain (I TOLD you it sounded like Southern California), but instead of one big palace, each god got dibs on a peak or ravine, with Zeus, of course, in the penthouse at the highest point, and that’s where all the gods met up. They all had thrones and presumably something to house them. Remember, too, that the Horai had to open the clouds to allow people to enter, that’s because the clouds functioned as a form of Gate. Everything else about the place seems to be lost to the ages or left to the individual imagination.

I wanted to write up something about the Underworld, too, since it seems to titillate people’s imagination more, but this is the second week of classes and I’m overwhelmed right now. If you ARE really interested in getting a similar post on the Underworld, let me know. It would probably be much longer, though, since there are many more extant sources.

Other participants in this synchroblog include:

  1. Faith and the Hero’s Journey (Hawk’s Cry: The voice of a witch)
  2. Journeying to Otherworlds: Access Denied (Between Old and New Moons)
  3. Lions at the Door (Quaker Pagan Reflections)
  4. More Than These Words (Aquila ka Hecate)
  5. Journeying to Otherworlds (The Dance of the Elements)
  6. Mythology Synchroblog 4: Children’s Story for Mabo (Pagan Dad)
  7. Underground Ruminations (Gorgon Resurfaces)
  8. Synchroblog: Journeys to the Otherworld (Bubo’s Blog)
  9. Symbolic Saiho-ji and Otherworld Journeying (Symbolic Meanings)
  10. Becoming pagan in America – an otherworld journey (Executive Pagan)


9 responses to “Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus”

  1. […] Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus (Paleothea: the Ancient Goddess) […]

  2. Yes, please tell us about the Underworld! As a non-Greek and a woman to boot, according to ancient Greek notions I presumably will end up there when my time comes.

  3. […] Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus (Paleothea: the Ancient Goddess) New! […]

  4. But I bet that although it may seem like California, there are few mudslides or forest fires…

    The Percy Jackson series (yes a kid’s series, but as I have young children, it is O.K. for me to read it) has Olympus moving with the center of civilization. Currently, Mt. Olympus is over the Empire State Building. To get to it, you just need to take the elevator.

  5. Ha! That’s awesome. Man I HAVE to get my hands on that series. Now that I’ve finished _The Tale of Despereaux_ I have an open spot on my rotation. 🙂

  6. […] Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus (Paleothea: the Ancient Goddess) […]

  7. […] Otherworlds Synchroblog: Olympus (Paleothea: the Ancient Goddess) […]

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