Some things never get old. Ancient Greek myths have stood the test of time for hundreds of years. Sword and sandal movies never really went out of style, and between historic movies about battles and empires to fantasies about ancient myth, there’s still plenty on both the small and big screen for fans of the peplum flick to enjoy.
Netflix went medieval with Castlevania, a cartoon for grown-ups that called back to as much Nintendo nostalgia as it did fantasy lore. Blood of Zeus is another animated series that Netflix has produced, partly inspired by the same visceral creativity that viewers liked about Castlevania, and marketed to the same audience. Instead of medieval fantasy, this show is based on ancient Greek mythology. Some of it is authentic, part of a system of legend and lore that has been with humanity for thousands of years. Other parts, however, are purely inventions of modern media.
10 Totally Made Up – Electric Zeus
Modern retellings of Greek myths have given audiences the impression that Zeus can just zap anyone and throw lightning whenever he wants as if he’s Storm or Sailor Jupiter.
In Greek mythology, Hephestos built the special thunderbolts that Zeus wielded like weapons as opposed to bending lightning. They were limited in number and Zeus only threw them once in a while. Electric Zeus does look a lot better on film, however, so the change is understandable.
9 Authentic – The Golden Fleece
This epic item was introduced to modern audiences in the film Jason and the Argonauts, and it was just as famous in the days of ancient Greece when the Argonautica was considered a historic document. In Blood of Zeus, Hera appears wearing it when she’s leading her forces against those of Zeus and Mount Olympus.
Not only was the fleece a popular fixture in the ancient Greek myth, Hera acts as Jason’s patron in the myth as a way of getting revenge on the blasphemous King Pelias, who has not only attempted to kill Jason with this impossible task but refused to worship her.
8 Totally Made Up – Bubo
The astro-droids of Star Wars owe something to this quirky mechanical sidekick, who predates all of them. Not by that much, however. Bubo the Owl was created solely for the vintage sword and sandal flick, Cash of the Titans, as both a sidekick for Pesueas and comic relief. Although it’s likely that Hephestos would have built something like this for Athena, no mechanical owl is included in his impressive repertoire of Automatons.
Bubo has become a fan favorite, appearing briefly in the sequel Wrath of the Titans that was released in 2012. In Blood of Zeus, Bubo appears occasionally at the side of Hephestos.
7 Authentic – Hera and the Crows
Hera was a goddess that held several animals sacred, and one of them was the crow. She wasn’t the only goddess to have an ancient and mythical connection with birds, which brings the absence of Athena from the series into even starker relief.
They often acted as her messengers and spies, like the time she used one to talk to Jason, but there aren’t any stories in ancient Greek mythology of Hera turning into a crow or using them as her minions a la Sauron from The Lord of the Rings.
6 Totally Made Up – Bastard Apollo
This might depend on who you ask, and that refers to Hera more than anyone else. Apollo reaches out to Heron using their shared status as “fatherless” children, and tells Electra that he was also “born out of wedlock,” but the fact is that Zeus had several wives before he was married to Hera. According to Homer’s Illiad, Apollo’s mother, Leto, is one of them. She was not a mortal but the daughter of the Titans, powerful beings who predated the gods and also gave birth to Zeus and Hera.
Apollo was one of the most beloved deities of ancient Greece, and there’s no way he would have been referred to as a “bastard” even if Leto hadn’t been married to his father, and later writers place her as more of a mistress than a wife. It seems the creators of Blood of Zeus threw in this idea to connect him to Heron, but other than Hera’s wrath, that’s not in the mythology or the history.
5 Totally Made Up – Heron
Zeus never had a son named Heron with a human named Electra who was also the Queen of Corinth. Considering how many lovers Zeus had, however, it’s possible that a few myths have been lost and this is one of them, which is the premise of the whole series.
The story of Heron’s birth echoes that of other myths of Zeus’ children, who were either born in secret or hidden some way after their birth. Perseus, whose mother was a princess who was set adrift in a box, is one example.
4 Authentic – The Automatons
Even thousands of years ago, Greek writers, poets, and muses spoke of metal statues that could move, built by the god Hephestos. The character Talos, the Bronze Giant, is one of the most recognizable thanks to his appearance in Jason and the Argonauts.
According to ancient myth, Talos was a special project that Zeus commissioned from Hephestos as a gift for his bride, Europa. Zeus did have other wives, remember? The automaton was tasked with patrolling the island of King Minos, Europa’s son. According to some depictions, however, Talos is not a human but instead patrols the island in the shape of a great bronze bull.
3 Totally Made Up – Alexia the Amazon
The Amazons really existed, and they appear in both historical accounts and Greek mythology. Although the name Alexia is an authentic name for a girl of the time, there’s no specific mention of an Amazon named Alexia in any Greek myth.
The Amazons feature predominantly in ancient epics like the Illiad when they fought on the side of the Greeks, and the recent popularity of Wonder Woman shows the legend lives on. Hopefully, this character will continue to carry the plot in Season 2.
2 Authentic – Angry Hera
Hera cast as the angry wife is a trope that’s thousands of years old, and is likely the source for the “angry jilted woman” archetype that still appears in modern media. Her jealousy is often the driving force behind some of the greatest ancient stories. It was her rage that drove the Trojan War, for example, jealous that Paris had chosen Aphrodite to be the recipient of the Golden Apple instead of her. It was also her rage that drove Leto to give birth to Apollo and Artemis on the non-island of Delos.
The other gods, including Zeus, had to distract the angry wife long enough to allow Leto to give birth in peace.
1 Totally Made Up – Giant Giants
Even ancient storytellers would get the Giants and the Titans confused, and that explains how they’re depicted in Blood of Zeus. The Giants of ancient Greek myth didn’t need to be large or ugly, and most of them weren’t.
In ancient myths, they’re often described as being the same size as human beings. There are several that are famous and are named in Greek myth, and although many of them were killed by the gods, very few of them are depicted or described as oversized, mindless animals.
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