Monday, January 11, 2016

Author/Book Spotlight - Cathy Hirds' Before The New Moon Rises

Please welcome fellow Greek mythos enthusiast and author Cathy Hird! She's here to tell us about her latest book, Before The New Moon Rises!

My host today has a deep love of Greek mythology as she showed in her lovely book "Love of the Hunter." So I thought I'd explore a piece of the mythology that is important to what happens in my novel "Before the New Moon Rises." In that story, Poseidon feeds the ambition of Mycenae to try and get what he wants.

The ancient city of Mycenae stood as a giant among the mythical places in Greece. The kings were bigger than life too. The one we know best was Agamemnon who led the mission to rescue captured Helen. It is Agamemnon's father Atreus who enters the tale I tell.

According to some of the ancient poets, young Atreus followed the goddess Artemis. The wit and strength of the warrior goddess embodied the skills he sought. He promised her that if a sheep with a golden fleece appeared in his flock, he would offer it at her temple. When such a ewe appeared, however, the golden beauty seduced him. He kept the animal and its fleece for himself.

Family competition flared leading him and his brother Thyestes to murder their step-brother. The two were banished for this breach of family loyalty. Taken in by the king of Mycenae, they became his regents when he went to lead a battle against the sons of Herakles.

When that king dies in battle, both the brothers desire his throne. Thyestes suggests that the one who brings a golden fleece should rule. Atreus readily agrees given that he holds such a fleece. Alas, because his wife knew he betrayed Artemis, she has already stolen the fleece and given it to Thyestes, her lover. Though Thyestes takes the throne, Atreus believes that the king of gods wants him to rule this important city. He asks Zeus to make the sun rise in the west and set in the east. On the day this happens, Atreus is crowned king in Mycenae.

Thyestes seeks the advice of the oracle at Delphi to retrieve the place he thinks he earned. There by the light of fire he sees a beautiful girl bathing in a stream. He takes her by force, but leaves his sword with her to show the identity of the father of her child.  He does not know that this is his daughter Pelopia.

Things get complicated again because Atreus does not give up searching for his brother, either to welcome him back or take his revenge--different poets tell the tale differently. He comes upon Pelopia and takes her for his wife. He has already put aside the woman who was unfaithful to him by stealing the golden fleece. He believes the son Pelopia bears is his.

If only Atreus had let his brother disappear. Instead he sends his adult sons Agamemnon and Menelaus to Delphi to ask the oracle for help. They find Thyestes there, bind him and carry him back to Mycenae. Atreus orders his Pelopia's son to behead the captive, but when the boy draws his sword, Thyestes recognizes the weapon and claims that the boy is his son.

Pelopia is called and acknowledges to Atreus that she was already pregnant when they married.  Thyestes cries out in sadness and names his misdeed. Pelopia is horrified that she bore her father's son and kills herself on the sword.

Thyestes demands that Aegistus kill Atreus which he does with the same sword. Agamemnon and Menelaus escape, taking refuge in Sparta where they meet the king's two daughters, Helen and Clyemnestra. Another story begins.

Before the New Moon Rises takes place once Atreus has established a firm rule in Mycenae before he begins seeking his brother again.

twitter: @cathyhirdwriter

Moon of the Goddess:

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