...it was striking me in Sandman and keep striking me in American Gods, almost all other pantheons and dieties are there and overused (celtic, egypthian, norway, even indian-american) but no one, or allmost no one from both greek and roman. why's that?
Ummm, Orpheus, he's greek and shows up in Roman mythology, and what about Calliope? She's a greek muse....
keep that stuff away from my ears.
The lack of major Roman/Greek gods in Sandman is really easy to account for. Sandman takes place in DC's shared universe. The greek gods have already been handled in that world, especially in connection with Wonder Woman. Trying to avoid entanglement with a complicated continuity would scare anyone off of handling them. Although there is a nod to them in Season of Mist, when one of the key-seekers asks another why the Greeks were not there.
Not putting them in American Gods was probably done for the same reasons. Go to a bookstore or library. There are more books on the Greek/Roman gods than any of the others. Everyone is more familiar with them than anything else. Because of the importance of the Greek culture on Roman and thus European culture, most people are fairly familiar with them. Playing with the other gods would be more interesting if you are trying to stretch yourself and your readers.
true, calliope and her son but i've said almost no one...
yes, i can almost swallow that part about sandman and dc shared universe, but second part of your answer is still little fishy to me, primate. why not use something the most people is familiar with? why do you think its a sucha sin? mr gaiman surely doesnt, bringing in shakespeare and "middsumer night dream"? don't you think ol' will is "slighty" more overused in literature than greek myths? come on, be serious...
1. Perhaps he felt the Greek/Roman gods were not believed in enough. The entire premisses of AG was old gods brought from their native land by their belivers immigration. Perhaps Neil thought when the Greek immigrates came over, not enough people still believe in their gods, or even had much memory of ever believing in them.
2. I always thought the Greek gods were far more internal than most pantheons. Soap Opera gods if you will. Greek gods always seemed more concerned with who they were sleeping with, who everyone else was sleeping with, and their own egos than running the world.
3. Perhaps he just doesn't find Greek/Roman gods as intresting as other pantheons.
|Shoggoth's Most Peculiar|
And in fairness the greek/roman gods didn't get much less coverage in sandman than the norse (who Neil obviously has a soft spot for), and more than any other pantheon I can think of off hand.
Using something everyone is familiar with isn't a sin. But it can be boring. A good writer (and Gaiman is one) looks for new ways to tell stories, to add a new views and new details. The basic stories existed in written form for 3000 years and were told out loud long before that. If you expect to make a career out of it, you have to be original enough that your readers don't scream that you are just ripping someone else off. Writers can and do make references to other and older works, but they keep the readers from screaming by telling it in a way they haven't heard before.
The idea of the ancient gods running around the modern world is a well worn idea. Even Gaiman uses it twice, once in Sandman and once in American Gods. However, he does not use them in the same way. The rules for how the gods live is different in each. Gaiman found a different angle to work that satisfied him (and satisfied me as well). Given the high profile of the Greek gods (I doubt Hollywood is going to make the Babylonian equivalent to Hercules any time soon), it isn't surprising to find that the Greek gods are commonly included in these kinds of stories. So, rather than try to find a new way to display the Greek gods, it would be easier to leave them out, and more challenging for the readers to try and figure out the plenty of other gods that exist in the myths of the world. Gaiman has never shown a desire to tell a story where a reader can easily figure out everything right at the beginning of the story. Or sometimes even at the end (who is the nameless god in Las Vegas?). I see no reason why he would use the Greeks unless he found a unique way of writing them.
And yes, Shakespeare's works are the second most referenced in the English language (the first is the King James Bible). However, I've never run into the idea that A Midsummer's Night Dream was commisioned by an extra-human force for the amusement of the fearies that appear in the story as characters. It was a new angle as far as I can tell.
It is new angles that Gaiman seems to be good at. Which is why he can make a living writing fiction.
I asked Neil about Greek gods at a reading. I believe his answer was that he did have an idea for them, but then they just didn't work in.
"Commit a sin twice and it will not seem a crime." -- Rabbinical saying
|Companion to owls|
Well, the whole idea in american Gods it's that it deals with "forgotten" gods who were brought to America when the people who beleive din them came to the continent.
norse gods were brought by the early vikings, hindu gods by the Indians, minor beings like pixies by peasants from the British isles, slavic gods by slavic people.
True, there are Italian and Greek inmigrants in the Us, but they stopped beleiveing in their gods more than a thousand years ago. As countries were the Christian church has been very strong from the beginning, they forgot completely all the ancient mythology, unlike say Ireland, which might be catholic but they still beleiv ein their old stuff coz the religion took so many years to root in.
So the Roman/Greek gods never got to america in the first place.
The main problem, form my point of view as a reader, would be to get past the Hollywood & marvel comics view of the graeco-roman pantheon. You say Zeus, and I get visions of either the big guy in Disney's Hercules, or Laurence Olivier in Clash of the Titans. Similarly, we don't see Thor much in either Sandman or American Gods: I'm thankful, because you say Thor, I see Dr Edward Blake in a Jack Kirby outfit.
If we could get the names reverted back to more obscure ones (Herakles or Iraklis for Hercules) that would help me (much as the Wednesday / Votan gag helps me avoid, for some reason, minds eye pictures of Ernest Borgnine in The Vikings. Don't ask): The original myths & legends are much dirtier and interesting than the Disneyised soap opera most of us got filtered to us through primary school and Victorian folklorists & mythologists.
The Wednesday thing made me realise something more fundamental: the Norse guys are so bound up with the roots of the English language, you can play more games with them in an english novel.
|Companion to owls|
Which is why the guy translating the bok into Spanish right now must be going crazy -here "Wednesday" is "Miercoles", and comes from the Roman god Mercury. Not that this affects the plot much, but it loses some charm. Same goes with Eostre, Loki and such -whether you keep the names or translate them, you're going to lose 50% of their meaning.
Well, I am from Poland and I've read Polish translation of AG ("Amerykanscy Bogowie"). Wednesday was not Sroda, but he stayed being Wednesday. However translator wanted to make readers know how to understand this name and why is he called like that so he posted it at the end of the book in a note. On the other side he changed Shadow to Cien, but well, this is his conception. But this is a little of topic. No Greek or Roman gods in AG? This is because no Roman or Greek believers got there and were still believing. Something else amazes me - why there is no American Jesus Christ? Well, maybe it is dangerous to use living religion in a book like that, but that is not a good reason for me. Whatever. Take care. (I hope Coraline will come to Poland soon).
|may or may not be cerulean|
I'm new here, so I don't know if anyone has mentioned this theory in a previous thread... but Christianity is still thriving in America, it's by far the most commonly practiced religion here. So Jesus probably wouldn't have been as worried as the other gods about not having worshippers. Plus, Jesus is always portrayed as a peaceful, "turn the other cheek" kinda guy. Most of the other gods tend to be pretty warlike. Then, of course, it would be pretty hard to use Jesus without getting a lot of (probably unjustified) protest. Also, I personally don't think the book would have been as interesting if Jesus were in it.
*shrug* Just some thoughts ^_^
i'm new and first time posting,i loved this novel and some of the actors i would use are:
"Guys, I really hate the idea of Vin Diesel as Shadow. Clearly I'm in a minority here, but he just doesn't click for me." -Dare
i have to agree with you i just can't picture that Bruce Willis id go for or Bruce Campbell
Wednesday - Ian McKellen/Sean Connery
Bast - Catherine Zeta Jones
Loki - Tim Roth
Czernobog - Christopher Walken
buffalo-headed man - James Earl Jones
Sam - Christina Ricci
Mr. Nancy - Martin Landau
Mr. Town - Hugo Weaving
Mad Sweeney - Steve Buscemi
Marguerite Olsen - Molly Ringwald
Easter: Susan Sarandon
these are actors that have been metioned previously but i feel would be the ideal cast
I meant to post this under the "Cast" post. I'm sorry; I would've edited it, but by the time I'd noticed it was past the time limit.
Love your list! And Shadow: if Sam Shepard were a bit younger, heÂ´d really do me. What do you think?
*taking the first plunge on this board*
Greek guy here...
Well I would have loved to see some Greek Gods on American Gods, but the truth is it wouldn't fit, because , as many of you have posted before, when Greek immigrants went to America they didn't believe in the Olympian Gods.That's fair enough. Personally I am a little annoyed because now in Greece these Gods are only considered as part of "fairy tales" and people forget that they were a religion that lasted thousands of years.
On the other hand, on Sandman, even though Neil has avoided the use of the main Gods, he has provided a lot of elements from the Greek Mythology. The Orpheus-Euridice story (a brilliant mix of the original one and the Endless version), the Kindly Ones(Eumenides)-Furies (Erinies) , Kalliope, Larissa-Thessaliad are many examples done with attention on detail and with respect to the originals. Greek Mythology is an infinite source of stories and it pleases me to see them done so beautiful by writers like Gaiman.
"My gun has no bullets..."
Actually, Quazarius, Jesus gets a mention as having been seen hitchhiking in Afghanistan "and nobody was stoppin'". As has been said, Jesus would have no place in American Gods, and besides, NG likes his skin. Including Jesus in the wars of the gods would have been a real good way to get the religious right on his back.
'I'm insane. What's his excuse?'
Personally, I think that the nameless god in Vegas is one of the chief Greek Gods, but, in general, I agree if you keep with the idea that the immigrants brought "their" Gods to America, then Viking Gods make sense, but ancient Greek? Not so much.
Also, one of the characters mentions that "the Lamb" seems to be the only god able to thrive in the hard american continent. I took that to mean Jesus.
Although none of the Greco-Roman gods make appearances in American Gods, their existence is acknowledged. On pg 438 of the paperback Mr. Nancy says, "We're not social. Not even me. Not even Bacchus." Bacchus (Roman) or Dionysis (Greek) is the god of wine and merriment.
Give me the mead. I gotta be hung over for the children.
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