CHATTER: Olympic/Olympian Gods
Last week the Indianapolis Star began a series in which current U.S. Olympians are compared to their ancient Olympian counterparts. The first was last week:
Heracles had his 12 labors. Tom Pappas has his 10.
Heracles (Hercules to the Romans) was the greatest of the Greek heroes. He was the son of Zeus, sovereign of the gods, and Alcmene, a mortal woman.
Heracles' 12 labors were in service to Eurystheus, king of Mycenae. The feats were so difficult that they seemed impossible. Heracles' struggles made him the embodiment of an ideal the Greeks called pathos, or virtuous struggle and suffering that leads to fame.
Pappas, who is of Greek descent, suffers through the 10 events of the decathlon: 100 meters, long jump, shot put, high jump, 400 meters, 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin, 1,500 meters.
Pappas is the reigning world champion. He scored 8,750 points to win the gold medal at Saint-Denis, France, last year. His best is 8,784.
Pappas finished fifth at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia, behind U.S. teammate Chris Huffins, a Cathedral High School graduate who won the bronze medal.
I wasn't sure whether it would continue, so I didn't mention it. Yet lo and behold, there's another one this week:
Poseidon ruled the oceans with his trident. Ian Thorpe rules the water with his size-17 feet.
Thorpe is a 21-year-old Australian who some assert is the greatest swimmer of all time, thanks to a kick that is no myth. He became the youngest world champion at age 15. He has set 22 world records and won three gold and two silver medals at the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
Poseidon (called Neptune by the Romans) was the brother of Zeus, king of Mount Olympus. Zeus ruled the heavens. Zeus' brother, Hades, had dominion over the underworld and Poseidon over the seas.
Poseidon didn't need gold medals. He had a golden chariot. He lived on the ocean floor in a palace made of coral and gems. At the approach of his chariot, pulled by white horses, storms ceased.
One characteristic that Poseidon and Thorpe do not share, however, is temperament.
Poseidon was moody. He would strike the ground with his trident to cause earthquakes, shipwrecks and drownings.
Thorpe is humble. He has always exhibited maturity beyond his years. He has donated money to cancer research and created a trust to help needy children.
Not bad so far ...