Thoughts Of Polytheists On Heroes Of Olympus

With many modern portrayals of ancient gods in media, Heroes of Olympus takes the cake on popularity. But what do Polytheists think about how their deities are written?

Book Culture

What is Heroes of Olympus?

Written by author Rick Riordan, the series, Heroes of Olympus, is a continuation of the Percy Jackson books. What is important to note is that the portrayal of the gods in both series is more whimsical and funny. While this is done to cater to the audience (mostly teenagers and younger children) it was not well received by all. Let’s specifically get into how it is received by polytheists.

Who are Polytheists?

Polytheists are people who believe in more than one god. Or they follow a religion of multiple gods. And despite modern misconceptions, there are still plenty of people who are polytheistic today! And for privacy purposes, the polytheists that answered questions, will be referred as Polytheist A, and Polytheist B. Both people were asked the same for questions to which they gave their own answers.

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Polytheist A

Question 1: What Deities do you follow?

A: I’m a Hellenic reconstructionist, so I worship all of the Greek gods.

Question 2: How is your deity portrayed in HoO?

A: My gods are portrayed horribly in HoO. They are a far cry from how they were seen in ancient Greece; so much so that they aren’t even the gods anymore. They are just characters bearing their names.

Question 3: How do you feel about your deity’s portrayal in HoO?

A: As a Hellenic polytheist and a Greek person, I am disgusted by their portrayal in HoO. They’ve been robbed of all their historical and cultural context. Everything that makes them the Greek gods has been taken from them.

Question 4: How do you think your deity should be portrayed?

I don’t think they should be portrayed. The commodification of Greek mythology by the west has done insurmountable damage to the Greek people—regardless of whether or not they worship the gods. Our culture is made into a spectacle and a cash cow. Non-Greeks marvel at the ‘outrageous’ nature of our gods. In their enjoyment of our ancient culture, they forget about Greek people. We are a living people.

Polytheist B

Question 1: What Deities do you follow?

B: I follow many deities in many pantheons. My patrons are Loki, Lords Apollo and Hades, and Lady Artemis.

Question 2: How is your deity portrayed in HoO?

B: Well, Loki obviously isn’t in HoO, but Hades, Apollo, and Artemis are! Apollo and Artemis are portrayed in typical twin fashion, always arguing. However, Apollo is also portrayed as an airhead who only cares about his music and pulling pranks with Hermes. Artemis, however, is portrayed as a sexist goddess who would kill all males if given the chance. Hades is a recluse who hates demigods and his brothers. If I recall correctly, he does act and show that he loved Persephone like any decent male would for their wife.

Question 3: How do you feel about your deity’s portrayal in HoO?

B: For starters, Apollo isn’t an airhead. Many people forget that he’s not just the god of the sun, music, and healing, but plagues as well. He is a medicinal god, which means he knows medicine but yet, people seem to think he’s just a loveable sunshine boy.

Artemis, as well, has a portrayal I absolutely despise. She held a dislike for the male gender but it wasn’t to the point of complete misandry (opposite of being a misogynist). Also, that seems to be her only focal point in the books. She’s the goddess of the hunt, which is depicted as well, but she’s also the goddess of the moon, childbirth, and nature. Yet people seem to believe that, because of these books, she isn’t a nature goddess and just a man-hating goddess who goes around America slaying monsters with eternal maidens.

I actually didn’t mind the portrayal of Hades in HoO. He’s a good father and a good husband, regardless of what people make him out to be. Yes, he did kidnap Persephone to be his wife but, honestly, he’s got the only healthy marriage out of all the gods. I’m not upset with his portrayal at all.

Question 4: How do you think your deity should be portrayed?

B: Apollo and Artemis both need adjustments. Apollo needs to be shown as a medicinal god and not just as a god who cares about music and haikus. He helped kill Patroclus and guided the bow of Paris to kill Achilles. He is a trickster god, just like Hermes, and he is known to be devious. Artemis needs to mellow out. I want her to be shown as a nature goddess as much as the goddess of the hunt and moon. Her job is to protect maidens, but also to protect the wild. If she was just shown to give more care, then people wouldn’t be so terrified of her. Hades is still good.

Important Take-Aways

Even though both sets of answers are different, they hold a similar truth: that HoO does not correctly portray the Greek gods. And HoO is not the only offender. Many people are upset with Apollo’s portrayal in the Webtoon, Lore Olympus. And with the Norse pantheon, how Loki is written in Marvel Comics. The biggest takeaway is that it is heavily important to do research and listen to polytheists when writing about gods.

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