Aphrodite, Book 6 of the Olympians by George O'Connor, 80 pp, RL MIDDLE GRADE

To celebrate the release of Aphrodite, the sixth book in George O'Connor's Olympians series of graphic novels, he is on a massive blog tour, writing posts at every stop! I am thrilled to have George stop by, especially since Aphrodite and George's blogcrawl coincide so serendipitously with Valentine's Day, as does George's post. For an inside peek at  Aphrodite and a very cool look at the image that the six books in this series make when spined out in order, click here. Then read on to hear what George has to say about Aphrodite's most famous offspring. And, as Charlotte says of Aphrodite in her preface to George's stop at her excellent blog, Charlotte's Library, "It's not for younger kids - Aphrodite, after all, is the goddess of sexy times (though there is a tasteful veil drawn over specifics)." She goes on to note that her 13 year old son loves this series and her 10 year old son has just taken an interest in it, and she highly recommends this series to anyone with an interest in Greek Mythology as well as graphic novel fans.

Hi, regular readers of books4yourkids. My name is George O’Connor and I will be your irregular blogger today. Tanya at books4yourkids has been kind enough to allow me to guest post here as part of my ongoing blogcrawl celebrating the release of my new book Aphrodite: Goddess of Love. Aphrodite is the sixth volume of Olympians, my ongoing graphic novel series that retells classic Greek myth, one deity at a time.

If you’ve been traveling along with my blogcrawl so far, you know that at each stop I have attempted to coordinate my days’ ramblings with the title or theme of the hosting blog. Yesterday, at Supernatural Snark, with its supernatural inclination and supporting review cast of mothers, I wrote a piece about the goddess Aphrodite herself and her own supernatural mother (or rather Aphrodite’s lack of a mother thereof); today at books4yourkids, I’m going to flip that topic and, as befitting a blog with ‘Kids’ in the title, I’m going to write about the kids of the goddess Aphrodite—well, one kid in particular.

Every year about this time we see him everywhere—a pudgy, little, nearly-nude winged cherub named Cupid. That’s one of his Roman names, though—in my book we call him by his original Greek appellation: Eros.  

And, as I’m fond of pointing out at my live appearances, Eros is a little punk.

Like his mother, Eros is a god of love.  Whereas Aphrodite is the literal embodiment of the erotic power which fuels all life in the universe, Eros is more of a little dilettante, a diminutive winged prankster who delights in causing trouble and breaking hearts. As we see him in my book Aphrodite, he’s a spoiled little child, stirring up all the mischief that is beneath his more powerful mother—she dotes on her son with all of a mom’s love, he is the apple of her eye. We get the sense that not only does she not see Eros’ faults, but that she secretly applauds his troublemaking — and he may even be her covert agent in the machinations of love. As the text says, Eros is clearly his mother’s child.

But what of his father? Does the paternal agent play any role in the plight of this wayward child? Well, the answer is a big “hmmm, maybe”, because sources don’t agree on the parentage of Eros. I myself favor three likely suspects.

Number one is the husband of Aphrodite himself, Hephaistos, the ugly god of fire and blacksmiths. Even though he and the goddess Aphrodite are married, he seems to be the dark horse contender. As mentioned, he’s no looker, and Eros is by all accounts a beautiful, if somewhat rotten, child. I’m not certain that genetics  should really factor that much into any discussion of Olympian parentage, however—Poseidon, for instance counts both an enormous Cyclops and a winged horse among his offspring.  I think having a child that doesn’t look all that much like you is pretty common when you’re a god. But also against Hephaistos as the father of Eros is the fact that Eros is a rather cruel and mischievous godling, whereas Hephaistos is characterized as being very kindly and earnest. Still stranger offspring have happened. The possible parentage of Hephaistos is illustrated in this painting by Tintoretto entitled Venus, Vulcan and Cupid. Poor Hephaistos almost seems to be saying, hmm, doesn’t look much like me.

Number two on the contender list is Hermes, the busiest god on Olympus. As the trickster god of the pantheon, as well as the god of thieves and liars, Hermes seems a more likely match as Eros’ dad than does Hephaistos. They even share a few physical similarities—maybe the wings on Hermes feet migrated up to Eros’ back. Aphrodite and Hermes are even known to have another child together—the dual-sexed Hermaphrodite (and now you know where that word comes from). All in all, Hermes seems like a pretty likely choice, except for one thing. Hermes, like Hephaistos, was regarded as a very kindly god. A bit of a troublemaker, yes, but not a cruel one.  Hermes as dad is portrayed in this painting by Corregio entitled The Education of Cupid. I love this painting—Hermes, arguably the smartest god on Olympus, teaching his possible son how to read. And look at Eros’ strange little head!

Number three on this hit parade is Ares, the god of war. Truth to tell, he appears in the most sources as the father of Eros, though, like I said, there is no agreement on who his dad is. Eros and he both share a similar martial quality, though Eros expresses his through a bow and arrow, whereas Ares tends to rely on bladed weapons. Physically, Eros is a good-looking kid, and Ares, even despite his rough personality, is the most handsome of the gods. And unfortunately, there’s that cruel streak they both share. Illustrating the god of war as the father of Eros is this painting by Manfredi—The Chastisement of Cupid. It’s a pretty rough scene, and unfortunately goes a good way toward figuring out the nasty side of our poor little Eros. 
Personally, my own opinion varies from day to day, and I like to at least leave Eros the option of the kindly Hephaistos and Hermes as dads rather than mean ol’ Ares. Ultimately, in my retelling, I decided to leave the parentage of Eros a mystery. That’s one of the nice things about myth—there are so many stories that can be different and  true at the same time.

 Olympians Books 1 - 6

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