If Only Hera Was In Charge...
"Get back to your knitting woman, this is men's business"
"Well, excuse me, oh mighty father of the gods, this isn't the Palaeolithic ages any more" retorted the missus, "it's 1000 BC, and women have rights".
Zeus felt like unleashing another thunderbolt but his rheumatism was giving him Hades these days, so he tried to get back to his sport papyrus. But Hera, mother of the gods, wasn't about to let up.
"Athena and Aphrodite want to take part, and you know how liberated girls are these days"
"Liberated? What the Hades does liberated mean?" grumbled the big Z under his breath, "it's not as if I had your daughter chained to a rock you know".
"No it wasn't a rock, but it might as well have been, not letting her go out half-past sundial".
"Look, woman, I am not about to let impressionable young girls take part in some mere mortal meandering whose only purpose in life is to prove their appendage is bigger than somebody else's" He grumbled. "Besides, goddesses don't, generally speaking, have an appendage".
"Since when does the size of your appendage have anything to do with being qualified to do anything?"
"Since I made the rules".
"Rules, can be changed".
"No they can't".
Ah, the melliferous morning banter of the gods. If only mere mortals knew. It's a good thing that mere mortals thought of their gods as wise deities to be feared and worshiped from afar. Which is probably the reason they had decided that the home of the gods would be the top of Mount Olympus, permanently swathed in cloud out of sight of mere mortals' gaze.
The truth was that the gods nowadays only pretended to be living on the mount. Strictly speaking they were spending most of their time on Myconos soaking up the rays and having a jolly good time on the clothing optional beaches. Not that Mt Olympus was to be sneezed at, but lets face it with their advancing years and the permanent snow and generally bad weather, it wasn't all that hospitable for the old folk; Nectar and ambrosia notwithstanding.
So they got together in a symposium and decided over a couple of nectars to move their head office to Myconos and just leave a few skeleton staff behind to tend the temples and keep the cobwebs off the columns. They installed a pretty nifty (for those days) semaphore to warn them if anyone was approaching their palace, and headed for the golden beaches on the island.
Not that many mere mortals managed to scale the mount. Only Hercules used to drop in regularly, but he was a demigod anyway so they eventually gave in and told him where the holiday shack was. Mind you, if Zeus had any inkling of where things would be headed, he wouldn't have given him permission to start the damned games.
It had been one of Herc's bright ideas, or so he thought at the time. Stop the wars every four years and let all the men get together to throw stuff around and run in circles, then pop down to the taverna and have a couple of retsinas with the boys.
Hera was all for it, especially when she found out that all the men would be running around naked. But then she went and got pregnant with Athena and before you know it Athena wanted to go to the games. So Zeus had to put his considerable foot down.
"Good morning mummy, greetings oh great immortal heavenly father of the gods and ruler of unimportant mere mortals, I salute and bow before thee".
"Morning Princes, and I am not the ruler of unimportant mere mortals, because if it wasn't for the mere mortals, your mother and I wouldn't have been invented; and you my precious jewel of the Aegean, would be but a mere twinkling in your father's eye".
"Sorry daddy, why are you so grumpy in the morning?" asked the innocent one, goddess of wisdom.
"Ask your mother".
"That'll be right, blame me" shot back Hera mother goddess of goddesses.
"Well, it was your idea, dear", rhymed back the father of gods and mere mortals.
"I was just saying to your father, that you and the other goddesses wanted to go down to Olympia next week to watch the games. Your father thinks it's a terrible idea"
"Well, he thinks it's inappropriate".
"To see naked mere mortals".
"Oh daddy, it's not as if they are that impressive".
"And how would you know about that, young goddess?"
"Well the other day, I was just walking along the beach. Apollo just happened to be hanging ten on his boogie board. So he came over to say hello, and he was all godly all over…"
"Stop right there young lady" interrupted His mighty greatness.
"Well, it's just that once you've seen Apollo, mere mortals wouldn't really impress one, would they dear?" Hera could be quite direct when she wanted to be. This wasn't one of those times.
"Look. For once and for all, forever and ever, as long as time exists and mere mortals worship us, women have no place in the Olympics. So stop bugging me!" Thundered the omnipotent one. "It'll be a cold day in Hades when I'm going to let my daughter run around naked with a bunch of other naked goddesses, while a bunch of naked mere mortals are staring at them. Do I make myself clear?"
There were times like this, when thunder and lighting bristled in his beard, that Hera knew, there was no way to reason with Him. So she did the obvious thing that any sensible woman of her age would do.
"Well dear, there is no need to get your toga in a knot. How about if the girls just do girlie things. Maybe they can wrestle a bit."
"What! Women wrestle? What if it rains?"
"Well, are you planning to make it rain?"
Zeus, being the father of all, thought about that for a couple of seconds. "Naked females, water and dirt" he thought. He felt a familiar stirring in his godly loins.
"Ahem, no, I don't think that would be such a great idea, dear. Better leave that to the Pompeians". "They know how to throw a good orgy." He added to Himself.
"Right you are dear, naked women, dancing around in front of equally naked mere mortals. NOT!" He thundered and the nearby island of Santorini shook in anticipation.
"They don't have to be naked, Your thunderously booming deity".
"Oh yes, I can see it now! They start out with clothes and they shed them as they dance! What on Olympus has gotten into you today mother? Are you trying to get the mere mortals excited for some reason?"
"No dear, I never said they had to shed them. That was Your idea!" It was way too late to retract it, she realised as she said it.
"Well bugger me! It's all MY fault now". He let go a rather powerful bit of ectoplasmic thunder that turned the nearby island of Santorini into the picturesque little extinct volcano we know today.
"Oh, there is no reasoning with you when you want to be stubborn!" Hera continued. "It's about time women were allowed to be equals with men!"
"Equals! There is nothing equal about mere mortals! Next thing you'll be wanting to drive carts and breastfeed babies in public".
"Well, what's wrong with that?"
"It's disgusting, that's what it is. It's just not on!"
"There is nothing disgusting about a mother feeding her baby!"
"I, was talking about the ox-cart!"
"Goddesses! Besides, why can't they do something more feminininine, like write poetry, or knit?"
"Oh, I see, so it's okay for them to take part in the Olympics, as long as they do feminine things!"
"Oh goody, thanks mummy" piped in young Athena who up until know had wisely stayed out of the way pretending to eat her ambrosia.
"No wait!" thundered his omnipresence. "I never said they could take part in the Olympics. I meant they should stay at home and write poetry, or knit or even, heaven forbid, learn to cook a decent plate of calamari".
It was his turn now to overstep the mark, and Hera was about to let Him well and truly have it.
"So that's what it's all about eh? Complaining about my cooking! If only I had listened to mother and married that nice young man from Lesbos!"
"You should know better than fall for a nice man from Lesbos dear. That was a fake moustache, even if it was bigger than your mother's. Your mother should have spent more time teaching you to cook instead of trying to marry you off to the first hirsute stranger that caught her eye".
"Leave my mother out of this you ungrateful brute!"
"Well I'm trying; why do you think we moved to Myconos in the first place? I was trying to get away from the in-laws. And I'm just getting sick and tired of ambrosia. Breakfast, lunch and dinner; Nothing but ambrosia, can't you cook anything else"
He only managed to duck the flying urn of nectar heading in His direction because he was a god and he had prescience. Besides nectar stains togas something shocking and no amount of vestal virgins beating it with a rock by a burbling spring washes it off.
The aforementioned urn smashed to lots of little pieces against an unsuspecting column behind him; as Hera mustering all the dignity she could possess, and being a mother goddess there was a lot of dignity hanging about looking to be possessed, stormed out of the room.
Athena, knowing how stubborn Her father could be, pouted pointedly at Him, picked up her lyre and headed off to the beach hoping to catch a glimpse of Apollo. He in turn, unconcerned about his exposed godly glory, was busy figuring out a new kind of surfboard with a sail on it.
Zeus on the other hand, calmly picked up his papyrus, checked the latest betting odds for Hercules to win the marathon, and made a mental note to call his bookie after the race. There was no point in placing a bet before the race since he knew the result beforehand anyway. "It's good to be The god," He thought.
The bookie had initially protested about the arrangement but had been made to see the error of his way after being chained to rock for a couple of years and having his liver eaten by a raven on a daily basis.
Hercules won the race naked as the day he was born, having been chased by numerous other naked men. Then proceeded to win the javelin, the discus, the long jump and pretty much all the events he took part in. Mainly because while inventing most of the events, had picked the ones he was really good at. A whole bunch of men cheered him on and then headed down to the taverna to eat some calamari, down a retsina or two, and ogle at the waitresses.
Which is pretty much why it took another twenty eight hundred years before a woman was allowed to toss a javelin in the direction of a judge. But that's another story.