Draft:Theodicy (epic poem)

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Symbol opinion vote.svg Comment: A single reference to an Amazon listing of the book doesn't count as adequate sourcing. The entirety of the article should be verified through a variety of independent and reliable sources, which should also help establish notability. Thanks! ~SuperHamster Talk Contribs 08:30, 4 July 2014 (UTC)

Theodicy is a blank verse epic poem by Robert Liles. Taking place in contemporary Mexico and the United States, the story centers on Eliseo and his peripheral townsfolk forced out of their fictitious town of Atenas due to violence from the drug trade and religious conflict. The story follows the long journey the villagers make through Mexico and across America. In this world, mythological figures live alongside humans, including the Olympian pantheon, spirits and monsters. Though country names remain the same throughout the work, city and state names, each with a real world counterpart, are altered to reflect Greek mythology, geography or culture.

The story takes place over 24 books, as many as are in the Odyssey. Likewise, the name Theodicy is a pun alluding to it, while also referring to the relationship between humans and divinity, most notably when Olympus acts selfishly and shuns or punishes humanity.


After an invocation of the muse Calliope, the story begins one summer night in Atenas, a rural town in western Mexico. On the outskirts of town, a drug cartel from the town Esparta gathers and are met by Ares, who has summoned them to this location. He commands that the Espartanos must obliterate Atenas and all the townspeople because they primarily follow his rival goddess Athena. In the town, while the protagonist Eliseo is praying to a likeness of Athena that resembles the Virgin of Guadalupe, her image comes to life and warns him to gather as many villagers as possible and flee Atenas because of the impending attack. He narrowly escapes with several villagers as their town burns while others die in the attack, including his wife. They reach a nearby abandoned mine and find an elderly Oracle inside, who gives them a prophecy. The villagers venture to the nearby major city of Éfeso to seek guidance from Artemis at her cathedral. While searching for it, they overhear a traveling mariachi band playing the Seikilos Epitaph. Once in the cathedral, Artemis possesses a statue in her likeness and advises them to seek refuge in the United States, as Ares and his Espartanos would continue to hunt them if they were to stay in Mexico. Meanwhile, Ares has directed the cartel to Éfeso and orders them to destroy the cathedral. The villagers escape into the Sonoran Desert and head north. Hermes meets them and offers his assistance, gifting Eliseo with the ability to speak all languages and sprinting ahead to leave directions in the desert to guide them to the border, leading them to a truck station.

The villagers hide in a semi trailer while the driver is away, and he unknowingly transports them through the sphinxes at border patrol and into the United States. Though attempting to reach a city by the name of Elysium to the northwest, Hermes tricked them by putting them on a truck bound for Arizona, which Artemis revealed earlier to be hostile territory. While moving toward the city of Heliopolis, nearby ranchers and servants of Ares detect their presence and release a cast of Stymphalian birds to kill them, though most of the villagers escape. At a small town, the survivors board a passing freight train, which takes them to Heliopolis. Though they know they must leave quickly, Helios appears and blinds them from the truth and all villagers but Eliseo become enamored with the city. Despite his protests, the villagers attempt to make a home in Heliopolis and find work through a construction manager. While taking them to a site, the Seikilos Epitaph is heard on a country-western radio station. Amidst a local political scandal, Meretrix, a centaur and the county sheriff, creates a diversion with a magic gift from Olympus that forces locals to direct anger toward illegal immigrants. Though by this point, Eliseo has broken Helios’ spell, the villagers are unable to escape a massive police raid throughout the area and are taken to jail. Artemis visits them with a beeswax cake concealing Daedalus' blueprints. She instructs them to collect griffin feathers and use the wax to build wings, which the villagers use to escape. Realizing they have left, Meretrix prays to Helios for help and the god melts their wings while in flight, sending them crashing to the earth.

The villagers emerge from a lake in a new city that locals call Elysian Fields, convincing them that they died in the crash. They find the locals to be overly pious and flawed, making them realize that they survived. While at a sermon, they hear a gospel rendition of the Seikilos Epitaph. On Olympus, an irate Hera argues with Zeus for spawning demigods, and out of rage and to convince her that mortals will still follow him despite his actions, Zeus creates an outbreak of tornadoes, devastating Elysian Fields. The villagers go to the rail yards, seeking safe haven elsewhere, though Hermes scrambles train information and sends them to the city of Acherusia. The villagers attempt to make a home here, though find it difficult to live with the locals. Zeus intervenes and tasks them with a quest: stealing a golden apple from Ladon. Eliseo finds his estate, which is home to an army of harpies, yet manages to steal an apple, which he then uses to bribe a bus driver to take them away. The driver takes them across state lines, but cannot take them farther and they set out by foot into the swamplands. While hearing the Seikilos Epitaph in a blues chorus, they are lured by sirens to a violent family who is holding a daughter captive. Eliseo works with the daughter to escape, finding she is descended from the Gorgons. They use the family truck to get to New Atlantis, where they settle. Weeks later, Poseidon is furious that the city abandoned him in favor of Dionysus and destroys it with a hurricane, casting the villagers out to sea after they board a stray boat. They eventually arrive at Isla Ogygia, which they initially thought to be uninhabited, though Calypso appears to them and reveals that she lives here in exile. Fearing their presence will bring the gods’ attention to her, she calls a team of hippocamps to take them away. They are taken to Cayo Taenarum in the Florida Keys where they encounter Sophocles. He takes them to the Underworld via a cave. They meet Hernan Cortés, who reveals that he is tasked with exploring and charting the constantly growing Underworld for eternity and tells them there is a chance to escape through a hidden gate.

After entering the gate, the villagers find themselves on a subway and emerge from it in Thebes County, near the capital. They are captured by police and taken to jail, where Athena appears and reveals she set them up for arrest. She had sent them on a quest to let Atenas fall and learn from America so that they could return to Mexico and rebuild a better town in her honor, though Ares would still attack in the future. This infuriates Eliseo, who shuns her. Ares later appears and strikes a deal with them: he would leave them alone if they never return to Mexico and would free them if Eliseo would intervene in American politics, as Ares could not function in an establishment where humans governed themselves and would lose power if he tried. Eliseo consents and Ares disguises him as a senator to persuade the president and Congress to increase military spending. While in the city, a military marching band plays the Seikilos Epitaph. In the capitol, Eliseo sympathizes with victims of war and refuses to help Ares, though Congress allows more spending regardless. After leaving the city, Ares expresses his gratitude, unaware that Eliseo did not help. Because the real senator was still incapacitated, Ares sends Eliseo to a function in nearby Lerna Bay City. While at the function, Hera, convinced Eliseo is Zeus’ son, releases Karkinos from the bay to kill him, though Eliseo is able to kill the crab first. The grateful mayor wishes to help him, though fears for his political career as the villagers are in the country illegally. He shelters them for the night and gives them a bag from Aeolus to express his thanks for saving the city, then sends them away to Delphi to see a legendary Oracle.

In Delphi, they find the Oracle, though it provides no answers, and encounter Olympian spirits Nomos and Dike, who provide insight and help. While in Delphi, they overhear a hip-hop version of the Seikilos Epitaph at a club. They then begin a search for a relic in a nearby city Agoraeus. First stopping in the resort city of Eriounios, they are drawn to a casino in which they lose the last of their money. At a rival casino, the Charites offer them hospitality and guidance. The next morning they send them away on a yacht bound for Agoraeus. While on the way, they find Circe hid on the vessel and is attempting to get to the city as well. Soon, the yacht is attacked by Phorcys, who sends wave after wave of sea monster. Circe quietly requests assistance from Leucothea, who transports them via a vortex beneath the waves and takes them outside of Agoraeus. After learning the sea deities were attempting to kill Circe and she had put their lives in jeopardy, Eliseo becomes irate and confronts her. Weary and irritated villagers plan a mutiny and try to use the perceived weapon in Aeolus’ bag, only to be blown away by a wind that crashes their yacht ashore. They awaken in a hotel in Cape Sappho, being cared for by a satyr, and find this town is a safe haven for LGBT humans, satyrs and nymphs. After recovering from the journey, the villagers set out for the city of Politeia. Athena returns to express her anger and warns them to return to Mexico at once, though Eliseo refuses. Soon after they meet Tiresias, a local professor of Oracular Sciences. He takes them to his university and presents the Helm of Hades to Eliseo, revealing that it would render him invisible to all who follow Olympus, but he would have to go alone. Eliseo leaves the villagers, boarding a bus bound for a resort between Politeia and Agoraeus. He wanders from the hotel and into the forest, where he is captured by tribal police. Eliseo attempts to speak a dead language to him, which convinces the officer to offer an explanation. He then explains the Titanomachy and the origin of Native Americans. He proceeds to take Eliseo to the outskirts of Agoraeus and frees him.

Once there he seeks the relic, though all he knows is that it is on an island and learns that Agoraeus stands on a series of islands. While looking, he comes across a symphony hall and hears a beautiful performance of the Seikilos Epitaph. He is captured there and taken to an office penthouse, where he meets businessman Midas who has a modified version of the golden touch, and tries to turn Eliseo to gold, though he narrowly escapes. Giving up, he enters a cathedral to beg Athena for forgiveness, but hearing a choir sing the Seikilos Epitaph he finally realizes he had been hearing it throughout his journey. He has an epiphany and swims to an island to seek the relic, though finds it is not there. He then realizes it is on a neighboring island housing the Colossus. Once there, he meets the muse Euterpe, who reveals she had been communicating to him through the Seikilos Epitaph and will free him from the binds of Olympus as she had for Seikilos centuries earlier. Zeus, Athena and Hermes intervene though find their powers over him are weakening as he loses faith in them. Eliseo sees the words of the epitaph appear on the pedestal and recites them from his heart, killing the gods and freeing him from servitude.