Zeus, by Jove!

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  May 5, 2008 — 1 Comment

Novelist and travel writer Tom Stone has released a new book entitled “Zeus: A Journey Through Greece in the Footsteps of a God” that traces the birth, death, rebirth, and eventual decline of the great Greek thunderer.

“Lusty, lightning-tempered, polyamorous Zeus was the most powerful and charismatic of the Greek gods, and the progenitor of some of the most enduring stories of world mythology. In Zeus, author Tom Stone takes readers on a 4,000-year journey through the god’s tumultuous life, from his origins as a sky god in the Russian steppes and his scandalous reign on Mt. Olympus to his approaching end in a palace storeroom in Christian Constantinople. Crossing the length and breadth of Greece, Stone and his Iranian wife explore the most significant sites in Greek myth, from mountaintops to subterranean caves, Olympus to Crete, and Mycenae to Macedonia. Along the way, he reveals how Zeus’s story grew from the soil of Greece and changed along with the country’s history, all with a brilliant mix of erudition and bravura storytelling.”

Some Pagans and Heathens, most notably Hrafknell at A Heathen’s World, wondered at the content of the book. Was it simply a travelogue with Zeus as the hook? Were there any deeper religious impulses in writing a work about the life of Zeus? In response to these questions Tom Stone has started his own blog, and essentially outs himself as a (qualified) polytheist.

“I followed up my comments in the Foreward by dropping very heavy hints along the way that for me, personally, the presence of the Greek deities in the Greek landscape was quite palpable (can’t say the same about LA!). And – more important – that a belief in them was not only preferable, but much more “realistic” than a belief in a single deity (except, perhaps, Mother Earth).”

Stone also unfavorably (to put it mildly) compares monotheism to polytheism.

“I believe that most monotheism is fundamentally ‘evil’ in the terrible ways that it attempts to impose its structures and strictures on great masses of people, espousing its glorious virtues with one hand and, with the other, attempting to eradicate all opposing beliefs (as the Christians tried to do with the Greek religion. – among others…). In contrast, polytheism and pantheism not only admit each individual’s (and community’s) personal relationship to the Ineffable, but their writings and oral traditions embrace not only the good but the bad in the way their deities manifest themselves.”

Stone’s religious mindset and opinions came about from twenty years of “rumination and research” after being being “haunted” by images and stories of Zeus at Crete. Opinions that Stone promises to further expand on at his new blog (which I look forward to reading). So “Zeus” is no mere travelogue, but a somewhat veiled religious pilgrimage, one that could open new doors of insight and discussion into the history and future of Western polytheism.

Jason Pitzl-Waters

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  • Tom Stone

    Jason – I love your comments! Very, very perceptive. You are probably right about this all being “a religious pilgrimage”. I hadn’t thought about it that way. But then, those who are closest to the subject are often the last to know… This gives me much food for thought. Thanks again!