Whether you’re talking about Gods, Demigods, Nymphs, Titans, or even just Humans, figures of ancient mythology often found themselves in some unpleasant situations. And we’re not talking about situations like sitting on the toilet too long and having your legs go numb, or walking through someone else’s fart-cloud. These are some next-level bad days, the likes of which you don’t find outside of the nightmares that Satan has inside your own nightmares. Some of these mythological figures brought the poopnado upon themselves, and others were just unlucky enough to be in the wrong realm at the wrong period of legendary history.
PERSEPHONE: CONFINED TO HELL BY FRUIT
Persephone was the Greek Goddess of Vegetation, and daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the Harvest. This Mother-Daughter team saw to it that plants and vegetation grew where and when it was supposed to. Persephone was remarkably beautiful, which doesn’t really surprise any of us, since we can assume the Greek Pantheon had no concept of “fugly.” She had the misfortune of catching the eye of Hades, Lord of the Underworld. Rather than sending a box of chocolates or standing outside Mount Olympus holding a boombox over his head, he did what most Greek Gods did in those days, and simply kidnapped the fuck out of her.
Demeter soon learned that her daughter had disappeared and, rather than neglect her kid to play Facebook games or, y’know, make sure food on Earth continued growing, she carried torches and searched the whole fucking planet for Persephone. Eventually the humans on Earth complained so much about starving to death, and the other Gods complained so much about Demeter’s constant whining, the King of the Gods, Zeus, stepped in to rescue his niece, who also happened to be his daughter. (Get over it. It seriously happens all the time in Greek Myth.) Zeus gave Hermes a break from being the FTD logo and sent him to retrieve Persephone from the Underworld, and the clutches of her captor/Uncle, Hades.
THE BADNESS Before Hades allowed his captive niece and love interest to leave, he offered her a pomegranate…like you do. Persephone ate six pomegranate seeds, because when the Lord of the Underworld and owner of a three-headed dog kidnaps you to Hell with every intent of raping the everything out of you offers you food, you eat first and ask questions not fucking soon enough. According to the Laws of the Underworld she could not entirely leave, as pomegranate was considered to be the fruit of the dead. She was allowed to return to Earth for a portion of the year, which is the Greek Myth origin of Spring. She spends the winter months in the Underworld with her Uncle/Husband as Queen of the Underworld, where we must assume the Underbed is as cold as the weather up here.
HEPHAESTUS: ADDING INSULT AND INFIDELITY TO INJURY
So Zeus is pretty badass, what with all the Thunderbolts he tends to toss out like death-spewing candy at a Slaughter Day Parade. Ever wonder where he got those wonderful toys? You can thank Hephaestus, the Greek God of Blacksmiths for these. He bangs them out like electrified license plates made of kill. But that doesn’t mean Zeus treats him all sweet and fatherly, even though he is Hephaestus’ father. Once, when Zeus and Hera were having an argument, Hephaestus stepped in to settle them down before any Domestic Deity Disturbance could take place. Unfortunately, he took his mother’s side, and Zeus was forced to admit that he was wrong, and make Hera some breakfast in bed.
Just kidding! Zeus totally picked up Hephaestus by the ankle and threw him off Mount Olympus. Clear off the goddamn mountain. Hephaestus was in free fall for an ENTIRE DAY before he landed. The fall crippled his leg forever, but he was eventually allowed to return to Mount Olympus, probably to avoid a visit from God-Child Protective Services. He was also allowed to marry Aphrodite, the Goddess of love, beauty and sexual rapture. That makes up for the whole “hurled off a mountain by Daddy” right? Not so much, because… THE BADNESS Aphrodite was a total slut. Disappointed in being the shimmering, beautiful “Uptown Girl” to Hephaestus’ sooty, blue-collar Backstreet Guy, she decided to “spread her gospel” to pretty much anyone that came along, because revenge is a dish best served with orgasms. She cheated on her husband with Dionysos, Hermes, Nerites, and, most famously, Ares the God of War. Once, Hephaestus managed to catch Ares in the act of charging Aphrodite’s battlefield, and chained them both to the bed they were sharing, allowing the assembly of the Gods to glare at them disapprovingly.
When Poseidon convinced Hephaestus to release them, saying that Ares would be severely punished for this transgression, Aphrodite was so grateful to the ruler of the oceans that she allowed him to “part her Red Sea” because learning lessons is for squares.
ATLAS: GODS ARE SORE WINNERS
Atlas was the son of the Titan Iapetus and, alongside his brother Menoetius, fought on the side of the Titans against the Olympians during the Titanomachy, the war in which way too many hard-to-pronounce words entered this sentence. Put simply, the Titans were the Gods before Zeus and his Pantheon Gang kicked them out and took their place. Atlas was one of these Titans, and his team lost. Y’know what? That’s fine. You can’t win every time. But instead of being sportsmanlike and letting the losers stagger off the battlefield like big fat losers who love losing, Zeus had to rub a little more loser salt in the wound.
THE BADNESS As punishment for having the audacity to defend his home and family from being overthrown, Atlas was sentenced by Zeus to hold up the Vault of Heaven on his shoulders. Do you know what the Vault of Heaven is? It’s the sky. The entire sky. That may seem easy, as the sky is nothing but air. But remember; in Myth Days the rules were different. The Sun was pulled by a chariot, Gods were born by being puked up by other Gods, and the sky was heavy as fuck. Try carrying a basket of wet laundry on your shoulders all day. Now pretend the basket is the sky, and a day lasts until the end of time. Atlas thought he found a loophole after convincing Hercules to hold the sky while he got some apples for him, planning to run off and leave Hercules screwed, because Atlas is apparently a dick. But Hercules tricked him into resuming his task, because he’s a bigger dick. According to the ancient poet Ovid, Atlas became the actual Atlas Mountains in Africa when Perseus showed him the decapitated head of Medusa, turning Atlas to stone.
HERCULES: PUNISHED FOR HIS FATHER’S CRIMES
So, if you remember how much trouble Zeus had resisting the urge to embed himself in every orifice he laid eyes on, you won’t be surprised that Hercules was a Demigod, born of Zeus and a human woman who is probably still sitting by the phone waiting for “Rockstar of Olympus” to show up on the Caller ID. Hercules had a destiny grander than Kanye’s rejected plan to marry Kim Kardashian at the Palace of Versailles, but Zeus’s wife, Hera, resented Hercules, probably due to his being a walking, talking, perfectly sculpted example of her husband’s tendency to dip his Thunderbolt in…well, pretty much anyone. While he was still a baby, Hera tried to have him killed by sending two giant snakes into his crib, but Hercules strangled them to death before presumably filling his diaper, belching, and going back to sleep.
THE BADNESS Hera wasn’t about to let a few dead snakes stand in the way of her plan to drop a staggeringly large mountain of revenge-powered shit onto Hercules’ head. Eventually Hercules married Megara (yes, the girl from the animated movie. Stay on topic.) and they had two children together. Hera chose that time to send Lyssa, the spirit of mad rage, frenzy, and rabies upon the hero which drove him temporarily insane. In a fit of madness not unlike those caused by dying in Call of Duty, he straight up slaughtered his wife and children. When he came to his senses and realized what he had done, he embarked upon the famous Twelve Labors to atone for his actions.
PROMETHEUS: WORST TIME TO HAVE A HEALING FACTOR
Brother to Atlas, the Titan Prometheus did not fight in the Titanomachy. Let’s go ahead and assume it’s because he was a wimpy little girly-titan. Let’s also go ahead and assume this was not written by someone who has never been in a fistfight before. Cool? Cool. Shortly after the first humans were created, Prometheus called upon Zeus and beseeched him to grant humans the gift of fire, because even in the time of ancient myth, some people could tell that grilling was going to be freaking huge someday. Zeus refused the request, and thus relegated humanity to a life devoid of s’mores and Burning Man forever. Until the day when Prometheus took it upon himself to smuggle fire from Olympus and deliver it to humanity, knowing we would do great and wonderful things with it.
THE BADNESS After the whole Titan-God-War-Battle-Bitch-Kerfuffle, Zeus had been pretty generous with Prometheus. After all, he had stayed out of the fighting and refused to pick sides. But once Zeus’ plans for “nothing but cold sandwiches for all time” were thwarted by Prometheus the Pyro-Pilferer, shit was about to get, as they say in Greek Myth, Realicus. Zeus commanded that Prometheus be chained to a rock upon Mount Caucasus, where an eagle would chew out his liver all day. During the night his liver would go all Wolverine and grow itself back, only to be eaten again the next day. You have almost certainly heard this story before, but have you ever really thought about how that must have been? Let’s try an experiment; pinch yourself in the side. Hard. Use your nails, pansy! Really get in there and pinch the hell out of that love handle. Hurts, right? Now imagine doing that all day, every day, for twelve generations. On top of that, you no longer have an organ to make bile with.
TANTALUS: SERVED HIS SON FOR DINNER, GOT SERVED
As a Greek King, and fourth person on this list to be fathered by Zeus, the God of Riding Bareback, Tantalus considered himself to be so clever that he could outwit the Gods themselves. So much so, he once took a page from your cheapskate Mother-in-Law who fills her purse with shrimp at the buffet, and stole nectar and ambrosia while dining with the Pantheon on Mount Olympus. In time he made a play for the Douche Crown and invited the assembly of the Gods to dine at his own home, where he secretly murdered his own son and made him into a stew, intending to trick the Gods into eating human flesh.
THE BADNESS Nearly all the Olympians deduced his plan and refrained from eating. However Demeter was so distracted by the kidnapping of her daughter Persephone, as mentioned earlier, that she ate some of the son-stew. We still don’t know why she took time out from searching for her child to attend a dinner party, but Perezia Hiltonus heard that Tantalus stocks a killer wine cellar. In reprisal, Zeus not only killed Tantalus, but commanded that he spend the whole of his afterlife in the Underworld, standing waist-deep in water, with fruit hanging over his head. Each time Tantalus attempted to drink, the water level would drop below his reach, and every time he attempted to reach the fruit, the branches would pull away from his grasp, which is where the word “tantalizing” comes from. Tantalus spent all of eternity with the appetite equivalent of blue-balls.
HERCULES AGAIN: GOT BURNED BY A WOMAN
After completing his Twelve Labors, Hercules eventually remarried, because it worked so well for him the first time. When he and his wife, Deianira, came upon a river, the centaur Nessus offered to help her across, because apparently Hercules is still a dick (see Atlas.) However, Nessus attempted to rape Deianira, and Hercules shot him with a poisoned arrow.
Before dying, Nessus told Deianira to gather some of his blood, as applying it to Hercules clothing would prevent his love for her from fading. Author’s Note: putting someone else’s blood on your spouse’s clothing does not make them horny. Just trust me on this one. THE BADNESS Some time later, when Deianira feared that Hercules affections were straying from her, and forgot that she had breasts which could be shown off at any time, she soaked his shirt in the Centaur-blood love potion. Hercules, too busy killing rapists and cleaning dirty stables to notice the stains on his shirt, got dressed before telling his wife to go do wife stuff. But Nessus had deceived Deianira (blows your mind, right?) and his poisoned blood actually burned Hercules so severely that, no kidding, he chose to KILL HIMSELF ON A BURNING FUCKING PYRE rather than endure the pain.
But I suppose all was not tragedy, as the fire burned away all the lame, mortal parts of Hercules, leaving behind only the immortal aspects he inherited from his father, Zeus. Now that he was fully a God, Hercules was welcomed to Mount Olympus and married Hebe, the Goddess of Youth and Hercules’ half-sister, leaving Deianira a lonely widow, living with the knowledge that she kinda killed her husband a little bit.