The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

4 out of 5

The stakes escalate in the quest. Gollum makes one of the best anti-heroes in fantasy and his addition to the narative is a highlight of the saga in general. He’s what the current Ringbearer may degenerate into.


Athena as Mentor

I will be in and out. Athena told herself. Giving Telemachus a mystic vision would be counterproductive to that. Unlike the other Olympians she preferred her favorites to keep their wits when she spoke to them. Besides that her full glory may incinerate the mortal, and she wanted to bless him not strike him down.

So she got rid of her shield and aegis and sheared her glory as she walked into the throne room of the Ithaca Palace. Telemachus was holding court as any wise ruler would. He had people waiting to present their petitions to him, and she waited for her turn.

Fingers pinched her bottom. She glared at the one who’d dared such sacrilege. She would’ve used Medusa’s head to turn the oaf into stone for such effrontery if she had it with her. The fool turned out to be a court official who only leered at her unrepentantly. She stepped away from him but he followed her. He chuckled when she headed to a shadowed alcove. This time he pinched a withered bottom.

“What is the meaning of this?” Athena grumbled with Mentor’s voice and glared at him with Mentor’s eyes. The courtier was taken aback by the sight of an angry elderly man. “Uh, there was this maiden…”

“Who do you think you are? Zeus? Is that why you think you may harass women?” He blinked in astonishment. Athena snorted when she realized a man didn’t have to be divine to think he had the prerogative to stalk women. She walked back into the audience chamber to await her turn in line.

I must make sure to unleash Nemesis on this lech when I get back to Olympus…

There are times when Athena strikes mortals down herself. Such a time can be seen as in “The Weft and Warp of Hubris” in A Heart for Hubris

Essay:Athena the Crafty Mentor

The Odyssey shows two instances of Athena engaging in gender-bending. This was necessary because of the low status of Ancient Greek women. Though the Greeks made a goddess the patron of wisdom.

She assumed the guise of a two wise men to advise Odysseus’s son Telemachus how to rule Ithaca and his household. These two men were family friends and Athena used their forms to get Telemachus to listen to her. These mythic episodes brought the term “mentor” into the language.

I’m surprised there aren’t more instances of Athena using gender-bending. Perhaps the Ancient Greeks didn’t want to admit they wouldn’t recognize the voice of wisdom when it spoke?

Most times she gives heroes advice as herself. It’s as if a female must have divine prerogative to speak out in Ancient Greek society. The male Olympians could amuse themselves in mortal guise and still be heard. A goddess has a voice as a goddess but needs to assume the form of a man if she wants anyone to listen to her as a mortal.

Basically Athena did this to move freely in human society and see them in their natural state. She could awe them into respecting her as a goddess but it would’ve been too troublesome to go about as a mortal maiden. That’s why she used the form of respected family friends and elders to speak her piece.

These episodes are necessities of the narrative. There is no hint she has any proclivities she wants to indulge with her male disguises. The fact she has to disguise herself makes me wonder why they bothered having a Goddess and not a God of Wisdom. Then again she might’ve had to learn to be “crafty” to get her way instead of blasting everyone who ignored her.

However, that doesn’t mean Athena never lost her patience. I dramatize this in “The Weft and Warp of Hubris” in A Heart for Hubris.

The High Crusade by Poul Anderson

4 out of 5

This is an amusing pulp tale of medieval knights who take over a spaceship and
set out to colonize and settle alien planets with it. the first generation has culture shock
but deals with it by conquering. The younger generation is more adaptable but their descendents take on a robust crusading outlook towards the stars. It’s not meant for deep thinking but is enjoyable.

Citizen of the Galaxy by Robert A. Heinlein

4 out of 5

I like this because it’s more of a space opera which is more favorite sci-fi subgenre. It details the life of a slave that grows up to find his family and strike a blow against slavery. He meets many cultures and interesting people along the way, and the worldbuilding for space faring cultures is complex and rich. It still holds up well decades after it was first published.