Ahh Greek myths. Those glorious tales of heroism, honour and… petty squabbles, soap-opera drama and more weird sex than Fifty Shades of Grey could shake a stick at!
It’s about time we stopped respecting myths and started laughing at them. Did you know Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty, was born of some discarded genitals? Or that Hera threw her own son off a mountain because he was ugly? Or that Apollo once kidnapped a boat full of people while pretending to be a dolphin?
And let’s not even get started on Zeus – king of the gods, ruler of the skies and a man who’s never heard of self-control. In fact, if there’s one thing most Greek myths have in common, it’s that all the drama could have been avoided if SOMEONE could keep it in their toga…
Horrible Histories writer Susie Donkin takes us on a hilarious romp through mythology and the many times the gods (literally) screwed everything up! Stephen Fry’s Mythos by way of Drunk History, Zeus is a Dick is perfect for those who like their myths with a heavy dollop of satire.
Ouranos is the OG dick (with the OG dick itself)
To get an idea of why Zeus is such a dick we need to look at his family history. Because dicks tend to have dicks for parents, and Zeus is no exception. His dad is a real dick, too. And his dad’s dad is a real dick, as well. He’s called Ouranos. Yup. But Ouranos can’t blame his dad for being a dick because he doesn’t have one. He only has a mum. She’s all there is in the beginning – just Gaia, the literal Earth. Which must have been pretty boring. So she gives birth to the sky, which means at least she’s got someone to talk to.
Seriously, Gaia is like the foremother of feminism – she creates another being, for the purpose of her own pleasure, all by herself. I don’t know why she calls him Ouranos when she has the whole universe of names to choose from – I mean, he sounds like a dick before he’s even done anything – but she does. And then she makes him her husband because there isn’t a lot of choice and marrying your son doesn’t seem to be an issue. In fact, incest is pretty much the norm in Greek mythology: they all marry their sisters and shag their mums and lust after their dads. There’s a reason Freud named his theories after Greek myths.
Anyway, every night Ouranos covers the Earth and mates with Gaia. It’s almost poetic (if you forget about the fact that he’s technically her son). Then Gaia gets pregnant. She tells Ouranos and he totally bugs out. He hasn’t got round to binge-watching Netflix’s Sex Education yet, so he’s totally clueless. But Gaia knows exactly what she’s doing – she’s already given birth to a husband on her own. In fact, she finds the whole experience very empowering. So, after a pregnancy filled with organic smoothies and plenty of kale, she gives birth to TWELVE children all with no pain relief – six girls and six boys – and calls them ‘The Titans’. Good to have a collective name for your kids when there’s a dozen of them. They form fun things like the ocean (Oceanus) and the Heavens (Coeus), and then some not so fun things like law (Themis). And because Gaia is the ultimate Earth Mother they all grow up to be long-haired, self-confident individuals, fiercely independent but with a strong sense of family. And none of them have an MMR jab.
Ouranos hates them. They‘re a total pain and never go to bed when they’re supposed to. Which means he doesn’t get as much ‘adult’ time with Gaia – though it’s still enough to have a few more kids, and these make the titans look like a walk in the park. First off, there are three giants each with one hundred hands (because anything can happen genetically when you’re the Sky and the Earth and into interbreeding). They call them the Hekatonkheires, which means hundred-handed ones – which is handy because that’s what they are, so they don’t need name badges or anything like that. Then they have a trio of one-eyed giants called Cyclopes who also cause a bit of a stir at playgroup by making huge ballistic missiles out of Lego®. Non-functioning thankfully.
Ouranos starts claiming he has male post-natal depression, normally whenever Gaia asks him to look after the kids. He had never planned on being a dad yet suddenly here he is trying to handle seventeen children, the youngest of which are actual monsters. And on top of that he’s got his sky work to do. It’s not like he can ask for compassionate leave – he’s married to the boss. To say he feels trapped is an understatement. Still, it’s no excuse for what he does next.
Ouranos grabs a shovel and starts digging. He makes a huge pit deep in the centre of the Earth (aka his actual wife) where he imprisons the Hekatonkheires and the Cyclopes. It’s hard work but satisfying. It’s a relief to do something physical for once. He wonders, not for the first time, whether his life might be easier if he was something straightforward like a gardener, say, or a basket weaver, rather than the pressure of being responsible for the entire sky and all the pressures that come with it, including night shifts 365 days of the year. He makes a mental note to take up running or some sort of regular exercise.
Meanwhile, Gaia is discovering that letting her kids ‘free-range’, means they are now actually feral. They’ve formed a pack, and she’s started to feel outnumbered, especially as Ouranos seems to magically disappear whenever the shit hits the fan. So when he comes down for their routine lovemaking that evening, she’s like wait up! Wait a damn minute! I thought it was your turn to look after the younger kids, so where on Earth are they?
And Ouranos totally tries to bluff and is like honey, gosh I just don’t know, I think they went out exploring and maybe they just got side-tracked.
And Gaia is like I can’t deal with this right now, I’ve been having weird stomach pains since lunch and no, it’s not indigestion before you ask. I have no idea what’s causing it but I need to lie down right now so you are going to have to put the kids to bed for once in your life. And then you are going to stay the fuck away from me!
And Ouranos is like shitballs okay I’m gonna do what she asks and then I’m gonna give this crazy lady a whole lot of space and he heads back to the skies.
And so now Gaia is reaaaally mad. Because when she told Ouranos to skidaddle she didn’t actually mean it – she obviously wanted him to apologise for being such a useless fucker and tell her how much he appreciates her. Instead, he’d upped and left, without even saying goodbye to the kids. And she still doesn’t know where the younger ones are … wait? And the horrible realisation of what’s causing her terrible stomach cramps hits her. She sees red. She has had enough. It’s payback time.
So Gaia goes to B&Q and buys a massive scythe … no, of course not – this is the Earth Mother don’t forget – she finds a Pinterest tutorial and she shapes a giant flint-bladed sickle from a bit of stone she finds lying around, marches off to find her titan sons and says okay which one of you is going to castrate your dad because let me tell you he is a TOTAL dick – he’s imprisoned your siblings inside me which is probably THE most painful thing I have ever experienced so I am going to make sure that he can NEVER EVER do it again.
And they’re like Mum WTF are you pre-menstrual or something?
And she’s like no, I am not. And FYI women don’t have to be on their period to get angry and emotional – they can do that ANYTIME THEY WANT!!! Like men. Anyway, it’s not as if I’m asking you to kill him, I’m just inventing contraception. And they say (while clutching their own groins) but what about clinical trials and everything cos we don’t actually know what the side effects of chopping his cock off might be.
They clutch their own groins when they say this. And Gaia looks at them and thinks god men are pathetic. She says look, it’s totally legal, I’ve checked with your sister Themis who is the literal law itself and she says it’s fine and they say you mean the one with grey hair who argues a lot? and she says yes and they say what, Heinous Themis? and start speaking in nerdy voices and laughing hysterically and she says shut the fuck up all of you and they shut up. And she says right, so which one of you little shits is going to do it?
And out of the six sons only the youngest one, Cronus, sticks up his hand. He’s always looking for ways to impress his older brothers and he’s stupid enough to think that cutting off his dad’s dick might be one of them. Gaia’s gutted because Cronus is a bit of a liability, but no one else volunteers so she’s left with no choice.
They head off to a quiet café and she orders a herbal tea and he has a hot chocolate, and he’s super happy because Gaia never normally lets them eat sugar and he’s getting to spend some quality time with his mum on his own at last. Gaia waits till he’s finished his drink and is about to tell him the plan when it occurs to her that he might not actually know what castration is so she says Cronus, you know about sex and everything don’t you?
Cronus looks blank and she thinks god Ouranos, you couldn’t even manage that basic dad duty?
So she fills Cronus in and he is shocked to discover what a penis is actually used for and goes from thinking yay I’m so pleased I offered to chop my dad’s dick off to thinking shit maybe this is the worst decision of my life. But there’s no backing out because his mum is goddess of the entire planet and absolutely terrifying when she’s angry.
‘As soon as you can see that it is completely hard and pointing upwards, I want you to use this special sickle to cut it off in one go right at the base. Got it?’
Cronus feels like he’s about to throw up (which is a real vibe with him, but we’ll get to that).
A week later he’s crouching under his mother’s bed clutching the homemade sickle with sweaty palms, and definitely regretting his decision. There’s a knock on the door.
‘Entrez,’ Gaia says in her huskiest voice, and in comes Ouranos, stinking of aftershave. He shuts the door behind him.
‘You look nice,’ he says.
‘Thanks,’ she replies.
‘It’s been a while.’
Even Cronus recognizes that this is pretty lame chat.
‘How are the kids?’ Ouronous asks. As if he cares.
‘You mean the ones who are going to be rulers of the world or the ones you’ve imprisoned in my body, you prick?’
And Cronus fist pumps (as best he can under the bed) because he’s just found out that he is going to be a ruler of the world. But he bangs his elbow on the floor and lets out a cry and Ouranos is like what’s that? And Gaia’s thinks shit, I can’t believe I trusted my clumsiest son with this job, but she distracts Ouranos by taking her clothes off. Works every time. From under the bed Cronus can hear his dad’s breathing getting heavier. And as he watches items of clothing land on the floor, he regrets every single decision he’s ever made that brought him to this moment, including being born.
‘Come closer,’ says Gaia.
Ouranos doesn’t need any encouragement. He’s all over her like a rash, slobbering over her boobs, and pushing her onto the bed, and Gaia is thinking where the hell is Cronus? Why am I having to endure this? But Cronus has managed to get the scythe caught in the bed springs and by the time he’s got it free and crawled out, Ouranos is about to lower himself onto Gaia’s prostrate body. Cronus hesitates. He is totally blown away by his mum’s banging body (because remember they’re Greek gods and incest is one of their favourite things), but he forces himself to concentrate on his dad’s knob. It’s definitely erect, and he can’t help noticing that it has a weird cloud-shaped head (a nice piece of design by Gaia). But back to the job in hand. He takes aim, and with one slice of the sickle chops his dad’s knob off.
There’s a lot of blood. And I mean A LOT. Even Gaia is taken aback. It just keeps spurting and spurting. And Ouranos keeps yelling and yelling like some awful wounded animal. Which he is. And Cronus isn’t really sure what to do with himself because he’s covered in his dad’s blood and still reeling from seeing his mum in all her naked glory. And then his brothers and sisters arrive and they’re like what’s with all the screaming and then they see their dad with no dick and Cronus holding a bloody sickle and Themis says is this even legal? and Gaia says you said it was fine and Themis is like whoa wait a second mum – you never asked me this stop putting words in my mouth but her mum tosses her a few drachmas and she’s suddenly all like yeah whatever, I’ll just busy myself over here and then Ouranos starts being overdramatic and shouting things like you’ve taken my manhood and do I even have an identity anymore?
And the others are like is that really your priority right now? Shouldn’t we call an ambulance or something? Because you can die from loss of blood and Gaia’s like don’t be stupid, he’s immortal you twats he’s not going to die he’s just not going to be able to father any more of you fuckers, thank fuck. And they all exchange looks because Gaia never swears and she’s been doing a lot of that lately, so she must be totally freaked (which also never happens, because she’s cool with everything as she’s a total Earth Mother). And a babe, thinks Cronus.
Meanwhile, Ouranos’s blood is pooling on the floor. Instead of congealing, the blood spews forth a host of creatures who are crowding the room like OTT guests at a fancy-dress party. There are Giants, the Erinyes (also known as Furies) who are bat-like creatures that flock to crime scenes demanding vengeance (which bodes well for Cronus), the Meliae (nymphs of ash-trees) and Telchines (half-dog half-fish sorcerers of the sea). No one’s really sure what to do. Because in a way they’re family – I mean, they’ve sprung from Ouranos’s blood, so this is just a new form of conception. It’s all a bit awkward to be honest.
In the midst of all the commotion, no one sees the severed penis fall into the ocean below, or hears the splash as it hits the surface, causing a ripple of foam to appear. They have no idea that Aphrodite is about to be born. I’m sure you’ve seen the portraits of Venus (her Roman name) – a gorgeous goddess rising naked from the sea on a clam shell? Well, she’s actually riding on a dick, and the white froth of the waves is the … yeah, I’ll let you figure that one out.
The goddess of love was born of a primordial being’s discarded genitals. Do with that what you will.