Lesser Greek Gods
“Is he around?” The girl-woman asking the question peeked from behind the traditional hanging curtain, one of several dozen around the room, their purpose – as far as she could tell - being to hide the walls. They hid people, too.
“Is who around?”
“C’mon, Hermes, give me a break. You know the Old Man is hot on my trail.”
“Not again! Phi, what did you do this time?” The young man’s exasperation battled his amusement and lost to his biggest grin.
“Nothing! I didn’t do a Hades’ damned thing.” She believed what she was saying, the young god noticed.
“That’s the trouble with you, Phi, you never do a Hades’ damned thing.”
“Is it my fault my that my parents had me? They could have told you that nothing good would come of it. I mean just consider: you take a really old god like Chronos and match him up with a sweet young thing like Eris and you just know the result is going to be awkward."
Raised eyebrow accompanies "Feeling sorry for ourselves, are we?" gaining the expected grimace from the goddess. "Oh, Hermes, you are such a pain! Don’t you have a message to deliver or something? You obviously aren’t going to be much help to me.”
Relenting, Hermes attempts a conciliatory approach. “Alright, Phi, tell me what happened.”
“Well, Zeus was having another of his affairs with a human and I got mixed up in it. I can’t help that, you know. I just walk by and my divine powers kick in and shit happens.”
The goddess, lost in remembrance of the disastrous encounter with Zeus, failed to notice the mirth spread across Hermes’ face. When she did look up to see the god’s amusement, her first inclination was to follow him around the rest of the day waiting for her divine powers to mess up his life. Her second inclination was to ask what he thought was so funny.
“Two millennia and then some, that will be a bumper sticker and a good one.”
“What will be a bumper sticker?” Phi wasn’t happy with this distraction, her glare emphasized this point. Hermes didn’t seem to care. “Shit happens!” he said. “It does and it will be a great bumper sticker.”
The irritation threatened to escalate to out-and-out-anger: “Are you saying people will refer to me as ‘shit happens’?”
“Not that it wouldn’t be apt, but, no, that’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying the fact that your divine powers will continue to operate long after people forget you exist is going to result in a very funny bumper sticker.”
Phi considered this for a moment before deciding that Hermes was probably correct and there wasn’t much she or any other god could do about it. She turned back to the incident. “Do you want to know what happened or not?”
“Yes, I do. Lay it on me.”
“Well, you remember when Hera discovered Zeus was playing around with the wood nymph? He blamed that on me but I wasn’t anywhere near him or her or the nymph at the time so it wasn’t me but there was no way I could get that through his thick skull. The Old Man gets his mind set on something and no pukey goddess is about to change its course. I decided it was time for a change of scenery so I took a vacation in the Isles. Conán is kind of fund to be around for a while and I figured it would give the Boss Man a chance to cool down and get over it. It’s not like it’s the first time Hera has caught him in a dalliance and it certainly isn’t going to be the last time.
“So, anyway, I’m over there in Eire keeping company with Conán and everything seems to be going well until he runs afoul of Míogath and, like most male gods, decides that it couldn’t have been his fault; it must have been some goddess up to no good and who was handiest? Me, of course. So, now all of Eire blames me for what happened to Conán. Pretty soon, everything that goes wrong on the whole damned island is my fault. Whenever Irish men get together to swap tales of how their plans for world conquest came to naught, how the woman they were wooing was swept away by some Anglo bastard, how the shamrock they thought was lucky was really a three-leafed clover of ill will, they just nod sagely – why is it that men always nod sagely when they are indulging their most foolish thoughts? – and mutter ‘Murphy’s Law’ and that explains everything.
“You’d think Zeus had taken a hand in educating the Gaels.”
The young god found himself laughing heartily at this tale, his only comment being “that is so like you, Phi,” a statement that threatened to produce a burst of invective from the goddess. Before she erupted, she thought of what he had said and found herself laughing as well. “It is, isn’t it?” she said.
When they settled down from this amusement, Hermes turned to the serious aspect of this situation. He decided to tell his friend what he knew and, perhaps, between them they could devise a remedy.
“The Boss hasn’t put you out of his mind, yet, Phi. He’s thinking there may be a way of ridding the world of your presence. He and Hades have been hoisting more than a few jugs of nectar plotting this out.”
“But, I’m a goddess,” Phi protested. “I can’t die.”
“Didn’t say nothing about you dying, girl; said they were planning to rid the world of you.”
“How are they going to do that? And what makes them think any plan they make can withstand my divinity?”
“Vanity, my dear. They plan to take advantage of what they believe is an overdeveloped sense of self in yourself.”
“Me? Vain? Come on; that just isn’t so.”
“Right. Now, let’s get back to the plan. How would you like to be a star?”
Phi’s snort almost caused her to fill Hermes’ face with spittle.
“Yeah, right! In the back seat of whose chariot?”
“No, no, missee; this is serious. How would you like to be a star? The Old Man takes great delight in turning humans and demigods into stars.”
“But, I’m a frigging goddess. You can’t turn gods and goddesses into stars.”
“True, true. On the other hand, there is a rumor that vanity sometimes does an otherwise intelligent goddess in.”
“And they believe this rumor!”
“Well, let’s say they’re willing to experiment with the notion.”
Phi frowned. Knowing Zeus as she did, as all the pantheon did, she could imagine him plotting against her. “What’s their plan?” she asked.
“They are going to sneak you on board the Voyager spacecraft. Being a goddess, you don’t have any mass to speak of….unless you decide you want some, of course. So, the humans will never realize that you are traveling on the spaceship. Once it gets outside the Solar system, the two good old boys will have it rigged so that it just naturally blows itself up.”
“And what will that do to me?”
“Well, as you just pointed out, you can’t die. And, as I just pointed out, you can have as much mass as you want, so you’ll just make yourself into a new star in the heavens and float around out there for eternity.”
“And they think I’ll buy into this? How can they be so dense?”
“Excuse me, oh mighty goddess person, but what, pray tell, is that glint in your eye?”
Phi blinked. A glint in her eye? Was there a glint in her eye? If so, why?
The more she thought about it, the more she understood that this plan just might work. She did want to be a star and being a star would be a whole lot better than putting up with everyone’s complaints about the consequences of her divinity. Yes, there just might be a plan here.
The young god watched the thoughts race in and out of his friend’s mind, not that he could read them, but the rapid change of expression, the feeling of emotions bouncing in and out, told him all he needed to know. “You’re going to do it, aren’t you?”
Phi beamed. “Yes, I think I am.”
At first, the goddess does not reply. Instead, a mysterious grin plays at her lips but doesn’t ripen into full bloom. Then, she does answer the Messenger of the Gods. “Go tell the Old Man I’ll do it. When he asks why tell him I sympathize with everyone affected by my power. I can’t help being me, though, and I think I deserve a little more recognition for being me. I want to be a star.”
Feeling victorious, Hermes ran off to tell ?e?s the good news. Behind him, Phi walked across the room to the table where sat the refreshments, helping herself to a very large goblet of nectar. As she sipped, she thought wryly: “You know, if the Old Boy would pay more attention to his own doings, he wouldn’t have so much trouble. He thinks that everything that comes out of his head is Athena, when most of the time his plans and plots are poorly done, more poorly executed, and the outcome doesn’t truly need me to be something well beyond what he expects.
Divine powers work only in the presence of the divinity. ?e?s can’t hurl a thunder bolt at something he isn’t paying attention to; I can’t muddle up the best laid plans of gods and men if I’m not around to affect them. Imagine, though, if I was a star, always around, always aware of Gaia and all the gods and goddess and humans running around on her surface. Just imagine what I could accomplish from that vantage point.”