My current project explores ancient Greek heroes and ancient Greek mythology in a modern setting. I’m a long time fan of romance novels featuring grizzly Scotsmen, devilish dukes, and buff athletes, but I have also always been a fan of the ancient Greek men.
Why make these men the subject of romance novels? Well, let me list the ways…
1. It All Began With The 300
A movie that features Gerald Butler AND Michael Fassbender, along with an army of other muscular men, doing the impossible. SIGN ME UP! This movie was my Braveheart, it was my Outlander before Outlander was a series. I can still watch it a hundred times and get goosebumps. Yeah, it is HIGHLY inaccurate, but the story is still fascinating and sparked a love of Greek history (and Greek men.)
Which leads me to my second reason…
2. A Fascinating History
Romance tends to lean towards certain eras. We love Regency and Victorian novels. Personally, I’m always looking for a good medieval Scotland tale. The Greeks have hundreds of years worth of fascinating history. From the Persian and Peloponnesian Wars to the era of Alexander the Great. If you want to go waaaay back, you can discover their Bronze Age and the battle of Troy. There is so much to explore! Which means there are a TON of interesting stories to discover.
3. They created the ORIGINAL Romance Hero
I mean, you could argue this point- but stick with me. The Ancient Greek’s loved stories about heroes, so much so that they even had cults devoted to them. Their stories survived to modern times because they have elements that contemporary audiences can relate too: adventure, monsters… romance! All the makings of a good tale! Achilles, Hercules, Odysseus were all complex characters who have a lot in common with the heroes of romance novels.
– Broody? (Check)
– Handsome? (Check)
– Makes terrible decisions? (Check)
Their stories may not fall in the romance genre, but that’s just because they don’t focus on the romance. If we just, I don’t know, shift perspective and give women (or LGBTQ characters) more of a voice in these stories then it would be easy to turn Greek heroes into men just trying to find love.
4. Greek Gods are just like the Fae!
Paranormal romance loves to talk about the Fae. They are powerful, self-centered, and unconcerned with mortal lives. Well, the Greek gods are just like that, and they have a LOT of family drama. What makes Greek gods compelling though is the aesthetics assigned to them; Athena represents Athens and wisdom, Ares was the patron god of Sparta and war, Poseidon ruled the seas. The Greeks had a god for just about everything and different stories to go with them. They also showed very human emotions. The gods fell in love (most of the time in lust), raged wars, had favorite heroes and mourned their deaths. Because of these things the Greek gods have captured my attention ever since I was a little girl. I bet I’m not the only one who memorized every single god before she reached high school.
5. Screw the Kilt try a Chilton
Everyone fawns themselves over men in kilts. Well, Greek men wore tunics that were much more revealing. They also did much of their athletics in the nude (think nude wrestling.) Someday will write a heroine who is as turned on by the Greek attire, or lack there of, as I am.
6. Greek Sexuality is a Complex MONSTER!
The history of sex in ancient Greece is a long and complex thing. Some scholars believed they were neither homosexual nor heterosexual, but referred to roles in terms of the passive partner and the penetrator (or, the man of the relationship.) They had a number of different types of love (Pothos, Eros, Himeros) to explain the relationships that could develop between two people: A familial kind of love, the lustful kind of love, the longing emotion of love, and so on. This means there is a lot to play with as a romance writer, in which we can explore both hetero and homosexual relationships. Were Achilles and Patroclus lovers or just the best of friends? The Sacred Band of Thebes was an army of male lovers, who died fighting Phillip II. These are stories that I’d love to see explored and brought to light.
So what do you think? Have I convinced you to give it a try? Stay tuned for more information on my Heroes of Olympus series. In the meantime check out Mary Renault, who wrote her famous Alexander the Great series that explores his various relationships. I also recommend Amanda Bouchett’s The Kingmaker Chronicles which takes place in a Greek inspired fantasy world.