OPINION:

Letter To Hollywood: Zeus' Other Sons Would Be Great In Movies

on March 31, 2012 by Ross A. Lincoln
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zeussonsarticle.pngWrath of the Titans' Perseus is the illegitimate son of the King of the Gods, and he's got a bit of a chip on his shoulder thanks to being left to fend for himself. That's cold, but alas, it's Zeus' modas operandi. The mansorry, the godcreated half the cast of Ancient Greece's mythology thanks to his philandering with mortal women. Yet, for reasons unknown Hollywood has only on focused on two of his sons: Heracles and Perseus. But Zeus had a ton of half-man, half-god kids and they all had fantastic adventures. It's high time some of Perseus' half-siblings got their time in the spotlight, starting with these three.

The Half-Man: Dionysus

The Myth: Dionysus is the Greek god of wine. He's also one of Zeus's kids. See, Zeus developed a hankering for the mortal woman Semele, so he did what any responsible leader of a divine pantheon would do: romanced the pants off her. Zeus' jealous wife Hera tricked Semele into asking her new boyfriend to reveal himself in all his glory. (The god parts, not the bits she'd already seen.) Zeus' divine essence was too much for a mere mortal to behold and Semele was vaporized by lightning. This left poor Dionysus-still a fetus-without a womb, so Zeus MacGyvered a quick solution and sewed the baby into his thigh. Ew. As an adult, Dionysus had a lot of crazy adventures: he traveled to India for spiritual guidance, was kidnapped by slave lords and used his magic to give King Midas the power to turn anything he touched into gold. But his big contribution to Western Civ is getting everyone in Greece really, really drunk. Worship of Dionysus would involve people getting as bombed out of their minds and having orgies out in the woods-maybe even sacrificing animals or people as part of the fun. Local leaders didn't take kindly to these crazy religious ragers, so in some versions of the story Dionysus is killed, only to be brought back to life and granted a seat on Mount Olympus with his father. And no, this doesn't remind you of anyone whose name rhymes with Sneezus.

The Movie: Dionysus is begging for the big screen treatment. His story has everything: sex, drinking, more sex, more drinking, a Picaresque journey of self discovery, more sex, more drinking, a battle for religious freedom, more sex and drinking, and pirates. For best results, get Gore Verbinski to direct with Johnny Depp channeling Hunter S. Thompson as Dionysus and Paul Giamatti channeling his performance in Sideways as the D-man's trusty sidekick Midas.

The Half-Man: Minos

Poor Minos. The king of Crete is a major part of one of the most frequently filmed Greek mythological events-the Minotaur and the labyrinthand yet has never been given the star treatment. Even Tarsem's glittery epic Immortals replaced him with a character named Hyperion. But he deserves at least the screen time allotted to a second rate Bond villain. Minos is the son of Zeus and Europa, the girl Zeus kidnapped and, um, "seduced" by taking the form of a white bull. Again, ew. Their childrenMinos had two brotherswere adopted by the king of Crete and later, Minos assumed the throne. He had a pretty good relationship with his dad, speaking to him every nine years (really good for Zeus, trust me) and got such good advice he became a just and wise king.

Here's where it gets weird. Minos' wife was a total dish and was hit on by Zeus' brother Poseidon, god of the oceans. Amazingly, she refused the advances of the divine pickup artist, which was a bad move. Poseidon went into a sputtering, passive aggressive rage and cursed Minos' wife to fall in love with a bull. So she did. And then... she got pregnant with a half-man, half-bull hybrid known as the Minotaur. You'll notice that Poseidon was Minos' uncle, right? That's got to be an awkward Thanksgiving dinner. When Minos' favorite son was killed in an unethical bullfighting scheme conducted at the behest of the king of Athens, he went crazy and convinced his dear old dad to visit plagues and starvation upon the city as payback for their lack of safe sporting regulations. If that wasn't bad enough, as a condition for letting up on the curse, Minos demanded that Athens apologize by sending seven girls and seven boys to his Capitol DistrictI mean, Labyrinthon Crete every seven years. There, they would ultimately die horribly for his amusement, killed and devoured by the Minotaur. From there, things only get worse.

The movie: Minos' story is a tragedy on par with Oedipus Rex. Never certain of his temporal power thanks to his ambiguous heritage, and having lost his favorite son, he is forced to bear the shame of his wife's humiliation at the hands of his uncle (!!!), he slowly gives in to the temptation to rule as an unforgiving tyrant until even his own father revokes his favor. Cillian Murphy's creepy-hotness would make a perfect younger Minos, to be replaced by Brian Cox as the aging despot. Throw in John Malkovich as Labyrinth maker Daedalus, and you've got a gripping, scenery-chewing tale of the rise and fall of a doomed king. Still unconvinced? Minos is the inspiration for President Snow in The Hunger Games.

The Half-Men: Castor and Pollux

The Myth: Technically, only Pollux was one of Zeus' sons. Yet, he and Castor were twins. How? Simple: their mother, Leda, was yet another mortal hottie who caught Zeus' eye. Rather than woo her away from her husband using "words" and "convincing," Zeus employed the time-honored trick of transforming himself into a swan-yes, seriously-and insinuating himself into her household as a pet. For reasons that aren't clear, Leda didn't seem to think there was anything weird about taking a pet swan with her to bed, and one night, while her husband slept Zeus..."seduced" her. She then laid three eggs, one containing Pollux, the other two his sisters Helen and Clytemestra (remember those girls). Castor was born at the same time, but his father was Leda's regular old mortal husband.

Despite the total freakiness of one of them hatching from an egg, the two brothers were inseparable. As kids, they became excellent horseman and fighters, and later, they joined Jason's Argonauts in the search for the golden fleece. But more important than their adventures is the fact that they're tangentially related to everything that happens at the end of the Greek mythological era. Their sister Helen was so pretty that all the kings of Greece wanted to marry her, though Menelaus won her hand. Menelaus' brother Agamemnon took Helen's sister Clytemnestra for his wife. To keep the peace, the other Greek kings agreed to keep their hands off Helen, and to go to war against anyone who failed to honor that truce. You all know what happens next: the Trojan War. And after that ended, Clytemnestra murdered Agamemnon as soon as he returned, and was in turn murdered by their son Orestes. Alas, by this point, Castor and Pollux were dead. During a skirmish with some even more effed-up relatives, Castor was fatally wounded. Pollux begged Zeus to let him share his immortality with his dying brother so they could be together for all time. The two were both struck dead, and as a result of the deal spent half their time in Hades, and the other half on Mount Olympus. Awww!

The Movie: How has this not already happened? It's the story of devoted brothers who can sail ships, box and fight armies by themselves. You have the potential for conflict as one brother envies the other's immortality, which gets resolved by the emotionally shattering conclusion! Clearly, you see the end of the Greek golden age through these two supporting characters, making this Rosencrantz and Guilderstern are Dead for the Bronze Age. Get Tom Hardy for Pollux and Channing Tatum for Castor, make sure to pack the supporting cast with every British character actor you can afford, and oh yes, get Terry Gilliam to direct.

 

Tags: Wrath of the Titans
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