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The Star Dancer
Author's note: There seems to be a Greek myth for just about everything. Except the origin behind shooting stars. I was inspired by my love for the classics and the fickle gods' tales in the Greek myths to create my own modern myth describing this phenomenon. I hope that after reading this, people will realize that everyone is not what they seem, and to not judge a book by its cover.
Soon after her wedding to Hephaestus, the smith god, Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty, went out to meet Apollo, the sun god, on a small island off the coast of Greece. There they fell deeply in love with each other, and soon after, Aphrodite gave birth to a baby girl. She named her Meteorite. Even at a young age, it became obvious that Meteorite was an exceptionally beautiful girl. She had smooth, fair skin, cherry-red lips, bright, twinkling, electric blue eyes, and long gold tresses that seemed to be made of spun gold. But the most exceptional thing about her was that she was so beautiful that she seemed to emit a silvery sheen; a bright radiance seemed to surround her and bathe her in a shower of light, so that she was always illuminated, even in the dark.
Meteorite also had a passion for dancing, and was so nimble and fleet-footed that people said that she was as graceful as the wind itself. She spent her days dancing in the meadows, and animals and people alike came from all over Greece to watch her enchanting dance. By the time she was 18, Aphrodite and Apollo saw fit to bring her up to Mount Olympus, for the gods had heard rumors of Meteorite’s beauty and talent for dancing, and were eager to meet her.
When she stepped into the great throne room, she laughed in delight, for it had been her heart’s desire to finally perform for the gods.
She curtsied politely, and then exclaimed, “Oh revered ones! Please allow me to perform a dance for the honor of finally meeting the mighty gods of the Pantheon.”
At this, the gods finally snapped out of their reverie, for as soon as she had entered the hall they had all been enchanted by her beauty and were staring at her, mouths agape, dumbfounded, until she had spoken. That is, all except for Hephaestus, who was still angry at his wife for having an affair with Apollo and despised Meteorite.
Finally, Zeus replied, “Please do, dear Meteorite, for we have heard tales of your grace and skill in dance and have been eagerly anticipating your arrival.”
So Meteorite’s dance began. She twirled and swirled around, seeming to put all the gods and goddesses into a trance. Her feet moved to quickly and daintily that they seemed to be a blur. First she was a bird, flying swiftly and surely across the great open skies; then she was a fish, swimming gracefully in the clear blue water, iridescent scales rippling; she was a deer, bounding and leaping nimbly across a flower-filled meadow; then she was a cheetah, racing across the heat-ridden savannah with panther grace and confident strokes. She never missed a beat, never skipped a step, never stumbled or hesitated even once, and then it was done; over as quickly as it began.
The gods and goddesses stared, stupefied with amazement, then immediately leaped to their feet and burst into clamorous applause so loud that the entire earth rumbled with the sound of their vociferous cheers and laughter. Then, finally, Zeus threw a thunderbolt and the assembly immediately fell silent.
“Thank you, fair Meteorite, for your endearing performance,” rumbled Zeus. “Name a boon, young one, and we will grant it in return for your alluring dance.”
“Oh, thank you, Uncle Zeus! I will surely use the boon when the time comes,” burst out Meteorite, giddy with pleasure at the compliment.
Just then, Hera, who had been watching Zeus with narrowed eyes hurriedly added, “Of course, such a beautiful and talented girl deserves a husband who is equally great. We will arrange the wedding to be a day from tomorrow, and Meteorite can choose whomever she wants to be her groom.”
“Hear, hear!” cried the other gods.
For the rest of the day, all of the gods pursued her hotly.
“Meteorite! Marry me and I will give you a palace of gold! You will be queen of the Underworld!” screamed Hades.
Now, when Persephone heard this, she became very jealous of Meteorite and vowed to teach her a lesson. However, when Demeter heard this, she became happy because she thought that if Hades married Meteorite then Persephone would be returned to her.
But Meteorite was secretly thinking, “Hades is an avaricious old grouch and a miser. His domain may be large, but it is bleak and depressing. Besides, he his not very attractive and has a boring personality. I don’t care how many palaces he has; I will never marry him.”
“Meteorite! Marry me and I will give you all of the treasures of the ocean! You will ride the finest stallions and live in the most lavish lifestyle! Pearls, jewels, fish scales, anything you desire will be yours! Come with me, and you will be mistress of the finest empire in the world!” shouted Poseidon, striking down his great trident and shaking his beard.
Meteorite thought, “Poseidon’s empire is huge and precious. But he is an arrogant hothead. His temper is too quick for my liking. But he is very powerful. I shall consider him.”
When his nymph queens in his underwater palace heard this, they became instantly jealous and plotted against Meteorite. And in this manner, all of the gods (except for Hephaestus) came to her and tried to woo her into marrying them. With each god, Meteorite gained more and more enemies, until Zeus himself, tall and imposing, approached her.
“Marry me Meteorite, and you will be the queen of the sky, and queen of the gods. You will be mistress of the stars, the sky, and everything that is in it. You liked Olympus so much? Marry me, and you will own it. You will receive the finest jewels, the finest clothes, and the finest palace of all the gods. You will live better than the finest queen in the entire universe. You will always be my most loved wife, and I promise never to love another if you will just marry me. Marry me, Meteorite, and everything ever known to mankind will be yours,” he boomed.
With that, he threw a thunderbolt into the sky, where it exploded into the most amazing display of fireworks ever, and then Zeus strode off without a backwards glance. Meteorite was greatly impressed by this performance, and she immediately took a liking to Zeus and his mighty demeanor.
She thought, “Zeus is definitely the perfect husband for me. He is the king of the world, and is the only god who I am impressed with.”
But Hera, skulking in a nearby corner was so infuriated that her hair stood up on end like Medusa’s and trembled from head to foot with rage.
“How………dare………she! How dare that evil, cunning, flattering, lying, scheming witch enchantress trick my husband into promising to make her the most loved queen of the gods? I’ll show that tick-infested, flea-bitten little worm that there is only one queen of the gods, and that’s me,” she hissed.
With that, she turned on her heel and stormed out of Olympus. Later that day, Hera met with Persephone, Athena, Artemis, Hestia, Hebe, Arise, Hephaestus, Poseidon’s nymphs, and even Aphrodite, who was tired of people saying that her daughter was more beautiful than her, so that they could plot against Meteorite. Athena, mistress of strategy, came up with a brilliant plan. But, as all brilliant plans are, there is usually always a flaw, and you will see that flaw as you continue reading this myth. That night, all of the goddesses (and Hephaestus!) crept into Meteorite’s chambers in the guest hall while wearing Hades’s stolen Helm of Darkness, and hid under the bed. When Meteorite had changed her clothes, washed up, and fallen into bed, exhausted, they all pounced up on her and tied her up with poisonous snakes, which immediately bit her. She cried out in pain, but no one paid any attention to her wounds, which now began flowing freely. Meteorite, terrified, asked them why they were doing this to her.
Hera cursed and scornfully replied, “Meteorite, you evil little dung beetle! You have bewitched our husbands and now you must pay the price! Remember the thunderbolt that you were going to share with your future husband as queen of the gods? Well, now you will die from it!”
Meteorite, however, was not paying any attention to what Hera was screaming. She had remembered the boon that Zeus had given her and immediately closed her eyes and began praying to him. As Hera was about to strike Meteorite with Zeus’s thunderbolt that she had stolen, Zeus himself appeared in the room.
“Hera,” he thundered, “Take your friends and GO! I had warned you once not to plot against me and hung you from the sky by chains. You had sworn an oath upon the River Styx never to do so again. You have now broken your promise, and on top of that, you have stolen Hades’s helm and my thunderbolt! Now you have forced me to kill you and your accomplices! Now YOU prepare to die!”
Just as he was about to blast them all into smithereens, Meteorite, who was crouching behind Zeus during the duration of his outburst leaped in front of Hera.
“NO!” she cried. “Zeus, please don’t kill them! They may have done terrible things, but please spare their lives! The entire world will collapse! Without love, marriage, fire, the forge, wisdom, strategy, homes, order, hearths, nymphs to protect the ocean, and even strife, the entire world will become corrupt and evil and fall into chaos that no god will be able to fix! Please, don’t do this thing unless you want the world to end!”
Zeus looked at her in disbelief, and then lowered his thunderbolt.
“All right!” he grudgingly replied. “I will spare your lives! But hear me out; this is the last time that you will plot against me or my guests. If any of you ever do anything like this ever again, you will face punishment worse than death.”
After uttering that terrible oath, he stormed out of the room. Meanwhile, Hera turned towards Meteorite and sheepishly apologized for the trouble, healed her wounds, thanked her for saving her life, and told her that she forgave her for stealing her husband and that if she was going to pick a husband at all, she should do so in a fair contest, to avoid offending anyone. The others did the same, and then they all turned and left the chamber. Meteorite got back into bed and as she was pulling up the covers, thought of a perfect competition to choose her suitor.
As Apollo rode the sun chariot across the previously dark sky, the first rays of dawn lit Meteorite’s face the next morning, and she jumped out of bed, got dressed as fast as she could, and raced down to the throne room, which was quite far away from the guest chamber. As she reached there, panting, she immediately forgot her tired muscles and excitedly exclaimed her proposition.
She said, “In order to avoid offending anybody and to choose my suitor fairly, I have decided that I will hold a dance competition to all of the gods or men that want to be my husband. Whoever can dance better than me will be my husband. The contest starts in one hour.”
Flushed with delight, she skipped back to her guest chamber and spent the whole afternoon practicing.
The gods simply looked at one another, thunderstruck, and exclaimed, “This is madness! NO one can hope to beat her in a dance competition! Any one of us couldn’t even beat a regular mortal woman at a dance contest, let a lone the best dancer the world has ever seen; none of us can dance!”
The goddesses just shared a smile.
“Silence!” roared Zeus. “Be strong, fellow gods; after all, we are gods, aren’t we? We can do anything! Who’s to stop us from winning a petty dance competition? “I say that we go right ahead and win this thing!”
“Hear, hear!” shouted the gods in unison.
They immediately rushed to their own chambers and tried to make their dance moves look less clumsy. Finally, the contest began. No god could ever hope to match her deft steps, and the men were even worse.
Meanwhile, a mountain goat named Capricorn was frolicking with his fellow goats on the steep ravine of Mount Olympus. He heard the commotion going on in the throne room and decided to see what was going on. Now, in ancient Greece, the mountain goats of Mount Olympus were said to be the most graceful creatures in the whole world. They could run up the entire length of the mountain and back down again in a matter of minutes and never stumbled even once. They were so adroit while doing it, and they looked so felicitous and agile that it was a wonder to watch them. Capricorn saw the sign outside the throne room and entered it. He had heard tales about the gorgeous and lithe Meteorite and desperately wanted to marry her.
As the last contestant stumbled over his own feet and fell sprawling onto the cold marble floor, all seemed lost to Meteorite. She was daydreaming different ways to choose her suitor when Capricorn walked in.
“May I enter the contest?” he inquired politely.
All of the gods scoffed and sneered at him, saying that if they, the mighty gods could not hope to match Meteorite’s talent, then a scruffy, grubby goat should not even try.
But Meteorite, who was intrigued by his humble simplicity, smiled and answered, “There’s nothing in the rules that say that a goat can not participate in the competition.”
At this, the gods stopped jeering and stared up in surprise.
“But surely you do not want compete with a goat?” hollered Zeus.
“Why not?” replied Meteorite. “Are you afraid that he’s going to win?”
“Of…Of….Of course not!” spluttered Zeus hotly.
“Then what’s stopping him from being allowed to enter? After all, the rules say that everyone who wishes to enter will be given a fair chance,” stated Meteorite fairly.
“But…but….Oh, all right!” said Zeus in defeat.
“Good. Now that that’s settled, Mr….”
“Capricorn,” stated Capricorn helpfully.
“Capricorn, are you ready to dance?” inquired Meteorite teasingly.
“I’m ready,” he replied happily.
They drew straws to see who went first. It was Meteorite’s turn. She moved to the music so beautifully that everyone fell into a trance, and all they could think about was how wonderful her dance was, and how beautiful she was, and how she was always showered in a silver light that made the dance even better.
At the end, everyone burst into raucous cheering and applause, and Poseidon even shouted, “Beat that, silly old goat!”
Capricorn said nothing, but simply went to the center of the room and signaled the musicians to begin playing. Then, he began his dance.
It was the complete opposite of Meteorite’s dance, but somehow, it was even better. When she twirled, he hopped, when she leaped, he tapped. Today, Meteorite’s type of dancing is called ballet, and Capricorn’s is tap dancing. But curiously, during his dance Meteorite began to develop a passion for Capricorn that she had never felt for anyone before. However, at the same time, she felt hatred towards the gods, especially Zeus. She realized that they had only wanted to marry her because she was beautiful and talented and so that they could boast of her to the other gods, while Capricorn sincerely loved her and would always be faithful to her. Also, the gods had hot tempers, were fickle, and made false promises, and it is better to have true love than to have material things like palaces and wealth.
At the end of it, everyone, except for Zeus and Poseidon, agreed that Capricorn’s dance was much more entertaining. It was all the better because while no one could ever hope to match Meteorite’s dance, all of the gods found that they could actually imitate Capricorn’s moves successfully. When Meteorite finally stooped down to kiss the furry head of Capricorn, the entire hall fell deathly silent. Then Zeus’s inimitable booming laughter rang across the entire hall.
“Meteorite! You can’t be serious! He’s a goat, for goodness’ sake! Abandon this false hope of yours, for you can never ever marry him and stay on Mount Olympus. Your parents would disinherit you, and you would be banned from this mountain forever. The gods will never protect you again, and you would lead a cursed life. Come now, choose a real husband, or devise another method to pick one. Allow me to kick the scoundrel off the mountain, and we will settle your marriage affairs over a well-deserved feast. What do you say?” he said and extended his hand out to her.
Meteorite calmly replied, “I would rather marry this goat than marry one of the gods, for while he is humble, sweet, and honest, you gods are arrogant, vain, impulsive and boastful. Goodbye forever uncles, aunts. I hope that I never have to see any of your faces ever again.”
Zeus’s face turned cherry red. “Fie upon you, witch! I had hoped that you were intelligent enough that you would make the right choice, but obviously you are not. Now, I am giving you both ten seconds to run before I blast you into dust!”
They wasted no time. Meteorite swung herself onto Capricorn’s back and he swiftly ran down the mountain before Zeus could even get to “9,” and by the time he got to “1,” Meteorite had lifted Capricorn into the stars, and turned herself into a star also, so that they could always be together without anyone interfering. And although Zeus looked and looked, he never found Meteorite and Capricorn ever again.
Even today, you can see the constellation of Capricorn in the night sky, and Meteorite dancing among the stars as a shooting star, which was named a meteorite after her. But even through all those centuries, Meteorite never lost her silvery glow of radiance.