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JAS' Big ol Book of Mythos

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  • #31
    Why was Achilles so important?

    Sing, Goddess, of the wrath of Peleus' son Achilles,
    the accursed rage which brought great suffering the the Achaeans

    ~Homer, Iliad opening lines

    I will never not envy Brad Pitt's jawline.

    I mentioned how the marriage of Achilles' parents was kind of a big deal? Well this is why. Achilles' mommy was a super hot, shapeshifting water nymph/goddess named Thetis, and all the gods were jerkin their gerkin hoping to put a baby in her oven... until Zeus discovered a prophecy. Thetis' son would be supremely greater than the father, which was the first time Zeus' boner ever was too afraid to get the job done. If you remember, Zeus killed his daddy Kronos to usurp power for the New Gods over the Titans, and didn't want the same thing to happen to him. In fact, it had been a ploy by Hera, Athena, and Poseidon to overthrow Zeus, because let's face it, he's kind of a dick.

    Well Zeus, knowing that Thetis' status as a water nymph means she's in Poseidon's territory, goes to his brother and asks him to help find Thetis a mortal husband so that their son is still mortal. Poseidon agrees, because what choice has he, and they determine a hero named Peleus is an acceptable husband. After a Taming of the Shrew type courtship where Peleus bound Thetis in seaweed to prevent her from shapeshifting, and then literally hold her down for hours until her spirit broke, they were wed, and the gods threw a party. Achilles was born soon after.

    It's kinda like baby baptism, but different. Instead of saving your soul, it makes you invulnerable. But uses the souls of the damned instead of water, so tradeoff.

    Thetis, desiring to make her mortal son immortal, dips him into the river styx, but holds onto one heel, which prevents him from becoming completely submerged, and leaving him one weak spot that can still be wounded. I'M sure it won't be a problem in the future. It's fine. Peleus, though, demands that his nigh invulnerable son still gets the best education in the world, and takes Achilles to Chiron, the centaur, for tutelage.

    You may not know Chiron very well. That's okay. He was a son of Kronos, and a gifted expert in art, poetry, medicine, war, music, and minor electives. But I guarantee that you have heard of at least some of Chiron's students and their accomplishments... here is a short list:

    ~ Peleus, Achilles' father. Okay that's cheating because I mentioned him already.
    ~ Hercules, the mightiest of Heroes, who went on 12 Labors and numerous other adventures.
    ~ Perseus, who slew the Medusa, and rode upon Pegasus.
    ~ Ajax the Greater, a major hero in the Trojan War.
    ~ Theseus, the hero who slew the minotaur and liked to play with balls of yarn.
    ~ Patrocles, a hero of the Trojan War who was Achilles' #1 lover and butt buddy.
    ~ Jason, Captain of the Argos, and leader of the Argonauts, who recovered the Golden Fleece.
    ~ Asclepius, the first true healer, whose snake wrapped cane is still a universal symbol for healing.

    And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Seriously, every demi-god and important hero learned from Chiron.

    Dammit Achilles, can't you play anything besides Wonderwall?
    Oh, and don't look behind you, your parents are having sex again.

    After Paris stole Helen from Menelaus, it gave Agamemnon a reason to declare war on the Trojans, and get all the dispersed Greek City-State armies together for a big party. He knew if he knocked out the Trojans, then the Greeks would be the only power in the Mediterranean Sea. The only snag was that Agamemnon heard a prophecy that he could not win the war without Achilles. At the same time, Thetis heard a prophecy from an oracle that if Achilles would go to Troy, he would die, so she tried to hide Achilles from the Greeks by sending him to a friend named Lycomedes, who disguised Achilles as one of his daughters.

    Yes. Mighty Achilles, Badass of Badasses.... hiding from going to war by dressing like a pretty pretty princess and knitting the day away. Unfortunately, Agamemnon sends the smartest person he knows, Odysseus, to find Achilles. Odysseus finds Achilles, but Achilles won't give up the act, and continues to prance around in a lacy dress. Odysseus, fed up with this sh*t, decides to force Achilles' hand publicly. In the court of Lycomedes, Odysseus draws his sword and commands a slaughter. Achilles acts on instinct learned from Chiron and draws a sword to respond, while all of the other daughters of Lycomedes flee. Odysseus points to Achilles, says "That b*tch has just been drafted." And does history's first mic drop.

    Odysseus continues winning the "outsmarting dumbasses" award.

    Achilles is the main character of the Iliad, but for a long time there is very little he does, but that's part of the reason of the story. See, Homer was interested in showing the contrast between human desires and Fate. Fate demanded that Achilles goes to Troy, gains victory, but dies. Achilles did everything he could to avoid going to war, then sat on his hands for 10 years to avoid fate. Ultimately, with the death of Patrocles, his #1 Favorite Ass in Asia Minor, he picks up the sword, wins the war within a few weeks, and promptly is killed in the final days. It is implied that even if Achilles had never gone to war, he still would have inevitably been drawn to Troy, and to his death.

    Achilles, the nearly invulnerable man who was destined to be a badass, and trained by the greatest badass coach.... yet did everything he could to avoid becoming a badass.
    Last edited by Johnnyallstar; 06-25-2015, 03:00 AM.


    • #32
      Solid. Any Asian mythology worth delving into?
      pheltzbahr 2016 NFL Mock


      • #33
        Tons. I was actually going to do the semi-mythical, semi-historical legend of Masamune before I got the idea to do the Trojan War. I plan on doing a bunch of Eastern stuff like that, and the Monkey King after Troy.


        • #34
          Is it dead? Okay.

          Here's two pieces of Japanese history that even in their own time transcended reality and invaded the realm of mysticism and legend. Even now, they are still referenced often in video games and Japanese pop culture, and their names are known to anyone who has played enough Final Fantasy. They are the legendary swordsmiths Goro Masamune, and Muramasa Senji.

          The Shimazu Masamune on display in the Tokyo National Museum

          In Final Fantasy, whenever you find a sword called the Masamune, it's always a godsend. Rare and powerful, they are frequently weapons that can last the player a long time. These are all referencing Goro Masamune, who was widely considered to be Japan's greatest swordsmith and metallurgist. His creations were reknown for their beauty and superb construction, but there are almost none left, because Masamune rarely signed his swords. He apprenticed a dozen younger swordsmiths who would also become famous in their time. It isn't known exactly when he lived, but it's thought to be somewhere between the late 13th and early 15th century.

          The Fudo Masamune, a short (25cm) tanto, named after Fudo, the buddhist deity

          The most famous Masamune, the Honjo Masamune has a fantastic story, which requires a little backstory. During the Tokugawa Shogunate (1603-1867) the Honjo Masamune was the private sword of the Shogun, and the symbol of shogunate power. The Honjo Masamune was considered to be the most perfect blade ever produced. It was handed down from shogun to shogun until the end of the Shogunate. One of the major changes brought on by the Meiji Restoration which overthrew the Tokugawa Shogunate in 1867 was the elimination of the Samurai class, and the outlawing of swords to be worn publicly by anyone but police. Most samurai swords were forced to be surrendered to the government,but some were allowed to remain with their owners, as symbols of their family history. This sword remained in the ownership of the Tokugawa family, and was declared a national treasure in 1939. In December of 1945 it was turned into a police station along with 13 other swords, and then in January of 1946 these swords were "gifted" to a "Sgt. Coldy Bimore of the U.S. 7th Cavalry," and these swords disappeared without a trace. Coldy Bimore is assumed to be a phonetic bastardization, but no traces or records of the sword or Bimore have been found. The loss of the Honjo Masamune remains one of the most tragic losses of a historical artifact cause by World War II.

          The Shimazu Masamune, pictured at the top, was discovered in 2014, and was the first true Masamune discovered in over 150 years. It was gifted by the shogun, Ieshige Tokugawa, as a wedding gift to the Imperial Family in honor of his marriage to Princess Kazunomiya. The sword disappeared for centuries until an anonymous donor brought it to a museum in Kyoto.

          The Kotagiri Masamune, owned by Oda Nobunaga, who began the unification of Japan before Tokugawa

          The Kotagiri Masamune is a beautiful piece which was gifted to the Meiji Emperor in 1882, and has been protected by the Japanese ever since. Originally, it was 97cm in length, but while it was owned by Oda Nobunaga (1532-1582) it was shortened by 30cm.


          The Juyo Muramasa in all it's glory... pic too big for forum

          To properly describe Muramasa, it's best to quote Oscar Ratti, writer of Secrets of the Samurai, as wikipedia does: "[Muramasa] was a most skillful smith but a violent and ill-balanced mind verging on madness, that was supposed to have passed into his blades. They were popularly believed to hunger for blood and to impel their warrior to commit murder or suicide." In pop culture, like Final Fantasy, swords named Muramasa tend to be cursed, or inflict wounds to the user while also being a deadly weapon.

          The beginning of this mythological blood-thirstiness began in 1603, when Ieyesu Tokugawa, founder of the Tokugawa Shogunate rose to power. One of his first actions as shogun was to forbid anyone from owning or carrying a Muramasa blade under penalty of death. Throughout his life, Tokugawa had seen his father, grandfather and himself seriously wounded by Muramasa blades, while many of his family and friends were viciously and traumatically killed by people wielding Muramasa's handiwork, including his son. He believed that all of Muramasa's blades were cursed against his family, and anyone who violated this edict was executed by crucifixion. Tokugawa really believed Muramasa's swords were after him.

          Unfortunately, because of this edict, many of Muramasa's actual blades had their signatures removed, many were melted down, and many forgeries swept across feudal Japan, as enemies of the Shogun scrambled to find a mystical weapon against the shogun. Muramasa lived sometime between the late 14th century and the early 16th century, though his earliest known work was dated in 1501.

          Legends say that a true Muramasa blade, once unsheathed, cannot be sheathed again without tasting blood, even if it must force the wielder to commit suicide.


          There's one particular myth involving these two swordsmiths, told a few different ways, which scholars are almost certain never happened, but is an extremely popular folk myth. It is highly improbable, as it is assumed that Muramasa lived a century after Masamune.

          The legend begins with Muramasa as the prized pupil of Masamune, both crafting some of the most wonderous swords to ever grace a samurai's hands. One day, in his arrogance, Muramasa challenges his master to a sword crafting contest to see which smith was truly the greatest swordsmith in Japan. After tireless work, the two met at a river to determine whose sword was greater.

          Muramasa unsheathed his sword, named Juuchi Yusamu (10,000 Cold Nights) and dipped the tip into the river. Everything that came through was sliced in two. Fish, leaves, grass, even the river itself and the air seemed to be wounded passing by the blade. Satisfied, Muramasa removed the sword, dried it, and sheathed it.

          Masamune was highly impressed by his pupil. He unsheathed his sword, named Yawarakai (Tender Hands), and put it into the river. Time passed, but nothing was cut,the fish would swim up to it, leaves and grass would pass by without notice. The air simply hissed as it passed the steel. When Masamune pulled the sword from the river, it was already dry, so he sheathed the blade.

          Muramasa chided his mentor, saying he had produced a sword which didn't cut anything, and berated his master until a nearby monk interrupted him. The monk explained that Muramasa's sword, while a fine sword, was an evil, bloodthirsty blade which did not discriminate what or whom it cut, and it may just as well be cutting down butterflies as severing heads.

          The second blade was by far superior, the monk explained, for it was a blade that did not needlessly cut anything innocent or undeserving.

          Alternate stories include using a waterfall, Masamune's sword healing the leaves cut by Muramasa's blade, or Muramasa's blade having cut leaves stick to it while Masamune's cut cleanly.
          Last edited by Johnnyallstar; 01-26-2016, 12:07 AM.


          • #35
            I need to read this thread


            • #36
              Originally posted by EL Guapo View Post
              I need to read this thread
              Get really really high first

              But you knew that already


              • #37
                That's like, almost a requirement.


                • #38
                  One thing to know about the Chinese, is that they love having a number of things with a fancy list name; for example: The Four Great Classical Novels. The most well known of these is a tale of travel, adventure, companionship, and redemption.

                  Journey To The West

                  Alternatively: How to Make Friends in Ancient China

                  Unlike some of the previous myths I've talked about, Journey to the West isn't a story with a simple point, or purpose. The Iliad and Oedipus Rex were about the inevitability of Fate while Gilgamesh and Chu Chulainn were simple stories about badass warriors who did over the top crazy sh*t. Journey To The West takes a greater scope and tells a strong, episodic tale of a Buddhist monk who embarks on a simple task, but makes some legendary friends who fight epic battles, get bored while he talks politics with people, and bicker with each other whenever they get underneath each others skin. In all, 100 chapters leave a lot of room for prose, speeches, character development, and many many stories to be told. There are specific character chapter arcs, villain arcs, filler episodes about politics and doing the right thing.

                  It's a lot like an anime. Which is partly the reason why many anime emulate it's structure and reference it frequently.


                  Xuanzang: The monk on a mission.

                  The protagonist and principle character, Xuanzang volunteered to become a monk as a child, abandoning his family. He believes that Buddhism in China is getting away from it's roots, and becoming tarnished over time, so he decides to make a trip to the opposite of east and claim original Buddhist manuscripts to restore proper Buddhism to China. He's handsome and charming, but decidedly chaste and a pacifist.. Which is unfortunate, because it seems like half the women/female demons/goddesses he meets up with wants to bang his brains out, eat him, or both. Another unfortunate thing about Xuanzang is that somebody somewhere spread a rumor to all the demons of earth that if they eat this monk, that either their sins will be forgiven, allowing them to re-enter the heavens, or they would be granted immortality. Suffice to say, if he was going to survive this trip, he would need AWESOME friends. So his mystical monk boss Guanyin gives him some advice to whom he should get to help him.

                  Xuanzang is frequently seen riding on a white horse, but this white horse is actually Yulong, the 3rd Son of the Dragon King of the West Sea. Which is unfortunate, because for someone who sounds so awesome and kickass, he really doesn't do anything except keep Xuanzang's feet off the ground for the majority of the book. He was condemned to be executed for setting fire to his daddy's pearl of great worth and eating Xuanzang's horse, but Xuanzang offered him release from his sentence if he would aid in the journey as a steed. This starts a pattern for the book, where everyone who helps Xuanzang does so because they're being punished for doing something stupid, and their assistance is a pathway to redemption. Sadly, Yulong is almost completely forgettable as a character because he does nothing, and a waste of potential.

                  Xuanzang never fights anyone, but frequently acts as a political mediator between friends and foes alike. His ultimate reward is elevation to Buddhahood... even if he did drop one of the original manuscripts in the river and ruined it forever.... Sh*t happens.


                  Sun Wukong: The Monkey King, and also everyone's favorite character.

                  Okay, let's get this out of the way. Goku is Sun Wukong. Sun Wukong is Goku. Everything about Goku was designed off of Sun Wukong. From the fact that Goku translates to "monkey" to the flying nimbus cloud, to the power pole, to making "after image" illusions of himself. It's probably easier if you just imagine Goku doing everything Sun Wukong does.

                  Sun Wukong is such an epic badass character that his backstory makes up the first 12 chapters of the story. The first eigth of the entire epic length work is dedicated to this guy's feats of awesomeness before the true protagonist is even introduced. I could/might write a huge thing just on this guy because of how awesome he is.

                  Born from the stone which anchored heaven to earth and absorbed the powers of both since the beginning of time, when he opened his eyes, a golden light so bright shined out and disturbed the Jade Emperor.... basically the Big Boss of Heaven. The Jade Emperor had it investigated, and determined that there was nothing special about Sun Wukong, being born of earth.... a severe understatement.

                  Quickly, Goku befriended the fiercest animals, and after a showing of bravery is declared the king of monkeys. After a while, he gets bored and decides to go find a weapon which is worthy of his hand. He visits the Dragon King of the East Sea and looks through his armory of weapons. Magical weapons weighing thousands of pounds, swords, spears, etc, but nothing was worthy.

                  But then the Dragon Queen suggested a worthless iron pillar that was just sitting there, which started glowing when Wukong showed up. Turns out, it was the Ruyi Jingu Bang, which would expand or shrink on the owner's will, and originally had been used to measure the depth of the Milky Way. Yeah, the whole Galaxy. Wukong typically shrunk it to the size of a needle and wore it in his ear as an earring. It was said that this Power Pole weighed 8.1 tons and kept the seas at peace. Wukong taking it upset the seas and monsters within, which upset the other Dragon Kings of the four seas, but Goku just kicked their asses and demanded they give him a golden suit of magic armor, a pheonix feather hat, and a pair of cloud walking boots (flying nimbus) as compensation for wasting his time.

                  For the sake of time, I'll skip over the other badass stuff he did before the story, but ultimately he caused so much trouble that the great Buddha himself had to trap Wukong under a mountain for 500 years until Xuanzang asked him for help. The only condition was that Wukong had to wear a golden ring around his head, which Wukong gladly did to get free.... until he found out that Xuanzang was given the authority to willingly shrink the ring, causing immense pain.

                  Jet Li as the Monkey King in a cheesey martial arts movie with Jackie Chan

                  Sun Wukong was a violent, short tempered trickster who was Xuanzang's most powerful ally, and through the trip learned self control and maturity. In the end, he was rewarded with enlightenment and elevation to Buddhahood. He even broke the 4th wall a few times, noting how the story actually goes.... Xuanzang gets kidnapped, the three amigos bicker, and Sun Wukong saves the day.


                  Zhu Bajie A lusty swine of a man.... pig.... thing.

                  Zhu Bajie, also called Pigsy, is a representation of all the shortcomings of mankind. He was once a god of great authority, in charge of 100,000 heavenly soldiers until he let his lusty, gluttonous habits out of control, and he tried to get jiggy with the Goddess of the Moon against her will. He was condemned by the Jade Emperor to live a thousand lives as a hideous monster where he would die in a tragic love story every time.

                  He tried to keep the daughters of a village captive for himself until Xuanzang and Goku showed up to help the village. Goku and Pigsy fought, with Goku winning. In penance, Pigsy offered to help with their journey, and return the women to town. It should be noted, if you watched the original Dragonball, Oolong the Pig is Zhu Bajie.

                  Pigsy is able to transform to a limited number of things for a short time under great effort. He calls Wukong "brother" despite being totally jealous of the monkey king. He is frequently kind, and optimistic, but also lazy and frequently blinded by his lust for beautiful women.

                  He wields a 9 toothed garden rake with incredible efficiency, and is almost a match for Sun Wukong in combat. Despite this, many of the adventures start with Pigsy and Xuanzang tossing around the idiot ball with Sun Wukong rolling his eyes with another "here we go again..." attitude.

                  In the end, Pigsy is still too stuck to his base gluttony and lust to become a Buddha, and instead becomes basically the busboy of the heavenly feasts, cleaning up tables and getting all the leftovers. Which is basically fine for him, since he just wants to eat, drink, and chase women.


                  Sha Wujing: The Sand Demon

                  Once a powerful General of Heaven, he accidentally broke a wonderful vase owned by the Queen Mother of the West, and was punished by the Jade Emperor with 800 lashes and to be reincarnated as a man-eating demon. If he strayed too far from the river, magical swords would fly from heaven and stab him in the chest, back, and sides because the gods can be dicks like that.

                  Despite the fact that Yamcha was based off of him, Wujing can hold his own in a fight. He's typically not as powerful as Goku or Pigsy, but vastly superior to either when in the water. He wears a necklace of skulls once belonging to monks he had killed and eaten, and will occasionally play with it when bored.

                  To the dismay of Western readers, Wujing doesn't get a lot of character development, and seems to be a third wheel to the more interesting Wukong and Bajie, but this is partly because he starts out as a somewhat enlightened character. Frequently he is used as the impassive foil to Wukong and Beije's impulsive behavior. Whenever Xuanzang needs a logical voice of reason, he goes to Wujing. Mostly, his presence in discussions is to be the peacekeeper between Goku and Pigsy, or Xuanzang and others.

                  Anytime you see any anime/kung fu dude using one of these, it's a reference to Sha Wujing

                  Wujing is noted for using a uniquely chinese weapon, the shaolin spade, which has a crescent moon blade on one end, and a wide spade-like blade on the other. His reward is being forgiven, and elevated to Arhat, which is an enlightened state, but not quite Buddhahood.... probably for eating the Buddhist monks and wearing their skulls as a necklace. Sh*t happens.

                  I'll get to some of the happenings of the actual plot another time, since it's kinda late right now, and I'm about to pass out.
                  Last edited by Johnnyallstar; 01-26-2016, 02:06 AM.


                  • #39
                    The Chinese stuff seems a lot more interesting than I first thought it would.


                    • #40
                      Chinese stuff is pretty good, once you get around some of the cultural quirks. Good enough that pretty much every other Far East nation cribbed it's notes and ran with whatever they stole to make something their own. That is also what happens when a nation can be on top for several thousand years without being torn down by outsiders. Not that it wasn't invaded, it was just so culturally advanced that the invaders invaded to integrate with the Chinese, rather than conquer them.

                      One of the funniest things I think about the Journey to the West is that Sha Wujing and Zhu Bajie keep trying to trick Xuanzang into saying the magic word which shrinks the ring on Sun Wukong's head. It's like a game for them, because they know Wukong is basically the best at everything ever guy, and they use it to take him down a notch whenever he gets too full of himself.
                      Last edited by Johnnyallstar; 01-26-2016, 11:02 AM.


                      • #41
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                        • #42
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                          • #43
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