A to Z Reflections 2017

This was my sixth year participating in the A to Z Challenge, and my fourth year doing it with two blogs. I began doing it on this, my secondary blog, in 2014. Just like last year, I also waited until this March to write my posts here, though I’d begun making up a list of potential names well in advance.

A lot of cool names on my list were unable to be used, due to a lack of substantial information and artistic representations. I only violated this rule on the V day, when I featured nine stubs instead of two complete profiles.

Names considered but discarded included Iynx, Myrina, Fulgora, Frijjō, Ucalegon, Vanth, Gorgophone, Lampsace, Wachilda, Wudga, Kalchas, Helenus, Hecuba, Asterion, Wilbreth, and Ino.

Issues encountered:

Comment moderation! I’m not talking about bloggers who moderate initial comments, or moderate all comments on hot-button issue blogs. I’m talking about bloggers who moderate every single comment for no reason!

If I take the time to write a thoughtful, respectful, intelligent comment, I’m not going to be very happy to return on another visit and see it’s still lost in moderation. Why did I waste my time writing that comment if you don’t get around to reading and approving your own comments until several days or weeks have passed?

I’m highly unlikely to return to such a blog. #sorrynotsorry

Lack of hyperlinking. A LOT of people just left their URLs in the daily link-up posts. While it doesn’t take hours to copy and paste it into a new tab or window, it’s still not as instantaneous as HTML coding it into a hyperlink.

The lack of a master list was a bit cumbersome. While there were certainly issues with the list, I liked how it contained all the blogs in one place. It took more time to trawl through the comments section of each daily post. The extra space taken up by each comment could’ve been used for several additional links under the old system.

I’m a big fan of time and motion study, pioneered by Frederick Winslow Taylor and Frank and Lillian Gilbreth. It conserves the amount of time and work motions used to perform tasks. Sure, it didn’t take that much longer to scroll through 26 different comment sections, open each link or C&P each URL into a new tab, and link up myself, but the time spent doing that could’ve been used towards visiting a few more blogs each day. Over 26 days, those additional minutes really add up.

I also liked having the master list so I could start going through it right after sign-ups started. I began by visiting those closest to me, and got to know a lot of new blogs in advance. Throughout April, I became familiar with who was where in the list, and knew which links I’d visited or hadn’t explored yet by their hyperlink color. It was also a helpful reference for catching up in the months after the Challenge.

If there won’t be a master list from now on, a happy medium solution would be a service like Inlinkz. Some of the weekly bloghops I’ve participated in use that or a similar linking service. All you have to do is refresh it to see newer additions.

I do feel like the lack of a master list hurt those of us who weren’t early birds. We don’t all have the same sleep, work, or school schedule, or might not be able to get on a computer until late in the day, after almost everyone has already passed through. With a master list, we could peruse it at our leisure, and other bloggers would’ve found us more easily.

Post recap:

Ariadne and Argos (22 views)
Busiris and Bremusa (16 views)
Chronos and Circe (27 views)
Danaë and Diomedes (11 views)
Eurotas ans Eos (7 views)
Faunus and Frigg (16 views)
Ganymede and Gaia (12 views)
Hecate and Hypnos (16 views)
Ixion and Io (14 views)
Jocasta and Jason (17 views)
Klytemnestra and Kronos (20 views)
Laërtes and Leto (8 views)
Mnemosyne and Memnon (14 views)
Nestor and Nike (11 views)
Orithyia and Orestes (11 views)
Priapus and Polyxena (12 views)
Quiritis and Quirinus (12 views)
Rhadamanthus and Rhea (9 views)
Semele and Silenus (13 views)
Tantalus and Tethys (10 views)
Urania and Uranus (6 views)
Voluptas, Vervactor, Viduus, Viriplaca, Verminus, Venilia, Vagitanus, Vitumnus, and Volutina (11 views)
Wayland the Smith and Whaitiri (12 views)
Xanthos and Xenokleia (9 views)
Yoŭnik and Yara (9 views)
Zethos and Zeuxippe (9 views)

Zethos and Zeuxippe

Copyright Rufus46

Zethos (Zethus) and his twin brother Amphion have quite an unusual paternity. Zeus, in the form of a satyr, raped their mother Antiope (who was married to another man), but he’s only the father of Amphion. King Epopeos of Sikyon fathered Zethos.

Out of shame, Antiope left them to die of exposure on Mount Kithairon, but they were rescued and brought up by shepherds. Antiope was punished (as though the rape and pregnancy were her fault!) by being enslaved to Queen Dirce of Thebes, her uncle’s wife. Dirce treated her very cruelly, and she eventually escaped. In a rather predictable plot twist, Antiope found shelter in the very house where Zethos and Amphion lived.

Dirce tracked her down, and ordered Zethos and Amphion to tie Antiope to a bull. They were about to do it when the shepherd who’d raised them revealed the truth of their birth. Dirce was the one who was tied to the bull and killed in Antiope’s place. Zethos and Amphion also wanted to kill Dirce’s husband, King Lykos, but Hermes intervened to stop it.

Zethos and Amphion gathered an army and conquered Thebes. Lykos abdicated, and gave power to Zethos and Amphion. They were co-rulers. Zethos became a hunter and herdsman, while Amphion became a musician and singer after Hermes taught him how to play a golden lyre.

Together, Zethos and Amphion built the walls around the Kadmeia, the Citadel of Thebes. Zethos struggled with carrying the heavy stones, but all Amphion had to do was play his lyre, and the stones would follow him and settle into place.

Zethos married Thebe, after whom their city was named, while Amphion married the famous Niobe. In one version, Thebe accidentally killed their only son, which led to Zethos’s suicide. In The Odyssey, Thebe is referenced as having killed her son Itylos in a fit of madness, and then became a nightingale.

Hylas and the Nymphs, by John William Waterhouse, 1896

Zeuxippe is the name of five women in Greek mythology, and the only female Z name I could find. The name means “bridled horse,” derived from zeuxis (bridle, yoke) and hippos (horse).

One Zeuxippe was Queen of Athens, consort of King Pandion I. She was a Naiad (nymph) of an Athenian well or fountain, and a sister of Praxithea, who was Pandion’s mother. Thus, her husband was her blood nephew. Those ancient Greeks loved keeping it in the family!

Philomela And Procne, by Elizabeth Jane Gardner

Zeuxippe’s children were Boutes (a priest of Athena and Poseidon, and married to his blood niece); Erechtheus (twin of Boutes, and later King of Athens); Prokne (Queen of Thrace); and Philomela. Prokne’s husband, King Tereus, raped Philomela when she was visiting, and cut her tongue out so she’d never tell anyone.

Philomela wove a tapestry with letters about what had happened, and sent it to Prokne. In revenge, Prokne killed her son Itys and served him to Tereus. Once Tereus discovered what had happened, he tried to murder them, but all three were transmogrified into birds. Philomela became a swallow, Prokne became a nightingale, and Tereus became a hoopoe. Some versions switch the birds the sisters became.

Yoŭnik and Yara

Copyright Natalia.sk

Yoŭnik (also called Yovnik) is an adorable farmstead creature in Belarusian mythology. He lives in a drying barn, called yoŭnya or yovnya in Belarusian. Here the sheaves of grain were dried before threshing. Yoŭnik is rather small, and perpetually blackened from smoke and soot. He’s also frequently covered in spider webs.

He’s very ashamed of his appearance, and so always hides from people. However, he’s very hardworking, and always serving his people. Yoŭnik starts the fire in the oven, airs out the sheaves, sweeps the floor, and protects the harvest from evil spirits and bad people.

Sometimes, he comes to the barn window to cough up the soot and dust. More rarely, he crosses the threshold to inspect the sheaves in the warehouse, deflect or direct the wind during winnowing, or look at the people working in the barn.

Copyright Natalia.sk

If a bad person comes into the barn, Yoŭnik waits for him or her to fall asleep, and then disturbs the person’s sleep, sends smoke, or sometimes even burns the barn down or strangles the person. Yoŭnik himself can’t burn in the fire, unless lightning strikes. If that happens, he leaves behind no dust.

A parallel figure is Ovinnik, a protective barn spirit in the shape of a black cat, as big as a standard dog, with eyes burning like coals.

Copyright Oosoom

Yara (also called Iara, Uiara, or Mãe das Águas) is a water nymph, mermaid, or siren in Brazilian mythology. Her form changes depending upon the story. Yara originated in Guarani and Tupi mythology.

Yara is described as green-haired, brown-eyed, with copper or light brown skin (either a native Brazilian or a caboclo, someone of mixed-race ancestry). She sits on a rock by the river, combing her hair or napping in the sunlight. When she feels the presence of a man, she begins to softly sing to him.

Once under Yara’s spell, a man will leave anything to join her in her underwater world forever. This was no trick, as Yara is very beautiful, and will cater to all of her lover’s needs for the rest of his life. Though Yara is immortal, her lovers eventually get old and die.

The Yara legend was one of the more common explanations behind the disappearance of those who got lost in the jungle.

Yara means “water lady,” derived from Old Tupi y (water) and îara (lady). The name is very popular in Brazil, both as Yara and Iara.

Xanthos and Xenokleia

Detail of Triumph of Achilles, by Franz von Matsch, 1892

Xanthos (Xanthus) is one of two immortal horses most famously owned by the great hero Achilles. The other horse was Bailos (Bailus). When King Peleos of Phtia married sea goddess and sea nymph Thetis (a Nereid), Poseidon gave him the horses as a wedding present. Later, Peleos gave them to his son Achilles.

Xanthos and Bailos drew Achilles’s chariot during the Trojan War. The Iliad also mentions a third horse, Pedasos. Though Pedasos was mortal, he easily kept up with the two immortal horses.

Sadly, Pedasos was killed by Prince Sarpedon of Lykia. The spear had been aimed for Achilles’s dear friend Patroklos (who may or may not have been his lover), but got Pedasos instead.

Automedon with the Horses of Achilles, by Henri Regnault, 1868

Patroklos fed and groomed the horses, and formed a very close bond with them. He was the only one who was able to fully control them. After Patroklos was killed by Prince Hector of Troy, Xanthos and Bailos stood still on the battlefield and wept.

Achilles took Xanthos to task for letting Patroklos be slain, and Hera violated her own Divine laws by giving Xanthos speech. Xanthos told Achilles a god had killed Patroklos, and that soon Achilles too would be slain by a god. The Furies then rendered Xanthos speechless once more.

Xanthos means “yellow.” Related feminine names are the gorgeous Xanthe, Xanthia, and Xanthina. This is also the root of my favouritest synonym for blonde, “xanthochroid.”

Priestess of Delphi, by John Collier, 1891

Xenokleia (Xenoclea) was the Pythia (High Priestess) by the Oracle of Delphi. Though many other things in Greek mythology are the work of rich imaginations, the Oracle was a real thing, with obvious historical evidence.

Hercules came to the Oracle after throwing Prince Iphitos of Oechalia off a wall in Tiryns. He was having nightmares, and wanted to find out how to stop them. Hercules also wanted to know how to gain atonement for what he’d done. Xenokleia refused to help him, since he hadn’t yet purified himself from his shocking crime. She was also stunned at what he’d done.

Xenokleia addressed him, “You murdered your guest, I have no oracle for such as you.” Hercules was so pissed by this response, he absconded with Xenokleia’s Delphic tripod, the three-legged seat on which the Pythia sat. He refused to return it until she gave him an oracle.

Apollo interceded, and Hercules got into a fight with him. Zeus had to intervene to get them to stop fighting. After the tripod was returned, Xenokleia bathed in the nearby Castalian Spring to purify herself in preparation for giving an oracle.

Xenokleia told Hercules he could only purify himself by serving as a slave for a year. The price he’d fetch would go to Iphitos’s kids, to compensate for his death. Hercules asked who’d buy him, and Xenokleia said it’d be Queen Omphale of Lydia. Hercules agreed to the terms, and began his year of slavery.

The fight between Hercules and Apollo is depicted on a number of Ancient Greek vases.

Xenokleia means “foreign glory,” derived from xenos (foreign, strange) and kleos (glory). The male form is Xenokles.

Wayland the Smith and Whaitiri

FYI: The Old Norse, Old and Middle English, Faroese, and Icelandic letter Ð ð is pronounced like an English DH, and Þ þ is TH.

Wayland the Smith is a master blacksmith who features in Norse, Germanic, and Old English mythology and folklore. Other iterations of his name include Wieland (German), Weland (Old English), Völundr and Velentr (Old Norse), Wiolant (Old High German), and Welandaz (Proto–Germanic).

In Völundarkviða (part of the Old Norse Poetic Edda cycle), Völundr is one of three sons of the King of the Samis (the Far North of Scandinavia, and Russia’s northwest Kola Peninsula). He and his brothers, Egil and Slagfiðr, cohabit with Valkyries for nine years. When the Valkyries leave, Egil and Slagfiðr follow them and never return.

Völundr is captured by King Niðhad of Närke (now part of Sweden), hamstrung, and imprisoned on Sævarstaðir island. Niðhad takes advantage of Völundr’s most exquisite skill as a blacksmith, and forces him to forge many things. He also steals Völundr’s sword and the ring from his Valkyrie lover.

In revenge, Völundr kills the princes, and makes goblets from their skulls, a brooch from their teeth, and jewels from their eyes. He sends the goblets to Niðhad, the jewels to the Queen, and the brooch to Princess Böðvildr. When Böðvildr comes to have “her” ring mended, Völundr takes the ring back, rapes and impregnates her, and laughingly flies away on wings he’s made. He makes sure to tell Niðhad about his gruesome revenge.

In the Velents þáttr smiðs section of Þiðrekssaga, Niðhad is King of Jutland (now part of Denmark) After Niðhad graciously receives master smith Velend as a servant at court, Velend loses Niðhad’s knife and secretly makes another. When Niðhad realises this knife cuts much better than before, he asks Velend about the matter, and Velend pretends court smith Amilias made it.

Niðhad has his suspicions, and puts both smiths to a test. Velend forges a sword, and Amilias armour. Velend must use the sword to try to kill Amilias when he’s in the armour. Velend is about to start to work when he discovers his tools are gone. Suspecting chieftain Regin, Velend makes a lifelike statue of him. Niðhad then realises the truth, and gives the tools back.

Velend has many more adventures in Velents þáttr smiðs, also ending with gruesome revenge and flying away on wings.

As Welund, he appears in the Old English poem Deor. In Beowulf, he’s mentioned as Weland, the smith who made the title character’s mail shirt. He also featured in the story of Franks Casket, a whale’s bone chest with many knife-cut narrative scenes. No written form of this story has survived.

He also features in many other poems and folktales.

Wayland is derived from the Germanic elements wela (skill) and land.

Copyright Fir0002

Whaitiri is the Maori goddess personifying thunder, descended from several deities personifying lightning. She’s not exactly a kind and gentle goddess, particularly since she loves cannibalism. When she heard about a mortal named Kaitangata, she was thrilled. Since Kaitangata means “man-eater,” Whaitiri was convinced he’d be the perfect husband.

Whaitiri was very disappointed when Kaitangata turned out to be a kind, gentle person who didn’t engage in any cannibalism. Trying to prove her devotion, Whaitiri killed her favourite slave, Anonkia, and gave Kaitangata the heart and liver. Kaitangata was horrified.

Copyright Sailko

Kaitangata spent a lot of time fishing to feed his family, but most of the fish got away due to his lack of proper equipment. Whaitiri taught him how to make barbed fishing hooks, and he became much more successful. However, she quickly tired of this pescatarian diet, and caught two of Kaitangata’s relatives in a fishing net for her next meal.

Not suspecting the bones came from his own family, Kaitangata used them to make fishing hooks. Whaitiri likewise didn’t know some of their fish came from those hooks, and started going blind after eating it. The fish was infused with lapa, sacredness, from the humans.

Whaitiri was very offended to overhear Kaitangata describing her heart as cold as snow, with skin like the wind, and complaining about how dirty their kids were. She revealed her true nature, and returned to the heavens.

Whaitiri means “thunder” in Maori.