Wednesday, October 28th, 2015

Apollo and the King Writing Contest: Win $50 to Amazon!

This contest is closed. Thanks to everyone who entered! Winners will be posted on the blog on December 10.

Apollo was a farmboy for awhile. And he looked damn good doing it, too.


The Myth

Admetus is the good King of Pherae, in Thessaly. One day, a convict comes to him to serve a sentence of one year’s hard labor for murder. Admetus makes him a shepherd. (Apparently shepherding was no picnic.)

The convict is a little strange.

He is one of those genius types who just don’t understand normal human interactions. He’s very detached from his emotions and processes everything in an objective, logical way. This makes him seem creative, but he would attribute it more to just being smarter than everyone else. He’s good at just about everything he does . . . unless he finds it boring.

He doesn’t much care to engage with people, but he understands them with an eerily accurate perception. And even though he doesn’t care to have friends, he does care about making an impression. He knows he’s different—better, actually—and he wants to be acknowledged for it.

Oh, and he’s also pretty good looking.

He’s a little like Sherlock Holmes. Or Spock.

King Admetus decides this guy is one of the most impressive people he’s ever met. Whatever drove him to commit murder was probably a very logical thing. (Shit happens, right?) So he treats the guy with all the hospitality and kindness he can muster.

Good move, Admetus. The convict turns out to be the god Apollo.

See what happened was, Apollo’s son Aesclepius had resurrected someone from the dead (Aesclepius got the “god of healing” genes from Apollo), and Zeus was not okay with this. Zeus killed Aesclepius with a thunderbolt. Apollo got mad and killed Cyclops, who had fashioned Zeus’s thunderbolt. Anyone else would have gone to Tartarus, but Apollo was sentenced to hard labor.

In gratitude for Admetus’s kindness that year, Apollo makes all kinds of good things happen to him. His herds all have twins. His fortunes double. Apollo remains Admetus’s protector for the rest of the mortal king’s life.


The Contest

That’s the basic story of Apollo and Admetus.

I want to know how Admetus found out that his crazy brilliant shepherd was actually the god Apollo. Did Admetus figure it out, mystery theater style? Was it a message from the messenger god Hermes? Was it a crazy incident that happened in the fields? Did it happen at the beginning of the one-year sentence, or at the end of it?

Your job is to write a short story, 5,000 words or less, putting your own spin on things. I’ll accept entries through the month of November.

Deadline: November 30

Entry fee: FREE!

Prize: $50 Amazon gift card


I’ll judge entries based on:

— Word count. Please stick to 5,000 words or less. It can be much less, if you want. (I only have so much time to read entries, and it would be a shame to toss yours out because it’s too long!)

— Writing prowess. Apollo was the best at just about everything he did. Don’t shame him with your less-than-best efforts. An understanding of how to structure a story, how to use dialogue, and all that jazz will work in your favor. (Spelling, grammar, and typos count.)

— An understanding of the archetypes and the myths. If you make Apollo an amazing lover who has a lot of close personal friends and gets drunk every night, you don’t understand his archetype. (There are a few tips on the archetype and the myth below, to give you some inspiration.)

Send your entry to my email: Please paste your entry in the body of your email, since I won’t open attachments. The subject line should be “Apollo and Admetus Contest.” Please write your entry in English. You can email me any questions at the same address. I’ll have a winner December 10.


Archetypal Inspiration

Here are a few details about Apollo, Admetus, and their myth that you can incorporate into your story and play with. (Not that you have to, but you never know what’s going to inspire you.) In different versions of the myth, you’ll find the following elements . . .

— Apollo was good at almost everything. He was the god of healing, plague, music, prophecy, the sun, and archery. He was the protector of children, especially young men.

— Apollo was brilliant with a lyre. (He would have rocked those shepherding fields so hard.)

(Sorry, I couldn’t resist.)

— Admetus was one of the Argonauts who sailed with Jason on the quest for the Golden Fleece.

— Apollo had a golden bow and arrow, which he didn’t use for hunting as much as for killing people. His sister Artemis had a silver set, and she used hers more often for hunting. Although she also killed people. (Apollo and Artemis were quite the pair.)

— I said Apollo was good at ALMOST everything. He wasn’t so lucky in love. He offended Eros, you see, by mocking the size of his . . . bow and arrow. So Eros kind of cursed Apollo in love. Women seemed to admire Apollo, but only from afar. Most of the women he loved were conquests, not actual lovers, which makes him a rapist. He had a few male lovers too . . . but they died tragically.

— Some interpretations cast Apollo as a chaste god, which makes sense because the archetype is very unsexual. It also mirrors the chastity of Apollo’s twin sister, Artemis.

— Apollo preferred to be in cities, rather than in nature. The archetype likes to build things and make progress in civilization. (He’d really have hated being without a cell phone signal.)

— Apollo did have a reputation for being kind of a recluse though.

— Callimachus, an Ancient Greek poet and scholar, makes Apollo and Admetus lovers.

— Apollo helped Admetus win his wife, who had way too many suitors. Apollo yoked a boar and a lion to a chariot for Admetus to ride in and impress the girl’s father. (That’s so Prince Ali, I can’t even stand it.)

— When Admetus died, Apollo got the Fates drunk and made them a deal: Someone was scheduled to die today, right? What if someone else died in Admetus’s place? The Fates, who were very drunk, nodded—sure, why not, that works. Admetus thought his parents might take his place because they were really old, but they also really liked being alive. Instead, Admetus’s wife sacrificed herself to save him, and Hercules was so impressed that he went to retrieve her from the Underworld.

— Read more about Apollo here. And here.

— Read more about Admetus.

Your story doesn’t have to be set in Ancient Greece or Rome. Be creative! What if the story happened in the future? In outer space on a star ship? Turn it into a Western or a steampunk, or do the Jane Austen regency version.

Your Apollo and Admetus don’t even have to be a god and a king. The core of their relationship is that Admetus treated this convicted-but-brilliant person well, who turned out to be in a higher position than him and granted him all kinds of crazy favors to make his life wonderful. Maybe that means Admetus is a psychiatrist and Apollo is a patient who’s just been committed, or something.

Have fun arche-typers, and good luck!


PS: Another archetypal writing contest is already in the works for December. Scroll up and subscribe to be updated!


© Leslie Hedrick 2015. The content of this article, except for quoted or linked source materials, is protected by copyright. Please contact me to request usage.



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