It's a sad day today: no new Atlantis episode on Saturday, so no new recap on Monday. Atlantis will be back next Saturday after a brief hiatus to make room for a special Doctor Who event, and we will get to see the boys travel to the Underworld in good, oldfashioned, hero style. To leave you with something today that may at least fill the void a little, I have taken my cue from last week's mini-breakdown of the real Pythagoras and will bring you a few character portraits of the characters and the mythological or actual people they were based upon.

Jason (Jack Donnelly)
Jason, obviously, is going to be the one without a counterpart in Hellenic mythology. That said, he is reflective of all the great heroes: he is strong, athletic, noble and shrewed. He has a keen mind, sharp senses and a drive to do good. Like any good mythological hero, he has daddy issues and he's taken over many a hero's role so far, but mostly Theseus comes to mind, who took down the Minotaur in the original Hellenic myth--and temporarily snatched up Ariadne, I should add. He also took Iásōn's name, the hero who commanded the ship Argo and led the Argonauts to the Golden Fleece and back.

Jason combines the best aspects of Hellenic heroism: a convoluted background, a sharp mind, a trained body, and a kind heart. Jason in the series also acts as the eyes of the audience as he came over from our world to Atlantis, and is still getting the hang of the ancient Hellenic culture as portrayed by the BBC.

Hercules (Mark Addy)
Hercules in the series is perhaps not the epithomy of human achievement--and a far cry from the hero we respect and worship--but he's a good guy at heart. That much is clear. I will be the first to admit that watching Atlantis' Hercules is often a bit difficult: to see arguably the greatest of Hellenic heroes avoid doing the right thing as long as he can because all other options are simpler/easier/cost less energy or money is a bit unsettling. That said, Heracles is still an intelligent man, with a good heart, who cares deeply for his friends. He would go to hell and back for them--and in the coming episode, it looks like he will do exactly that.

The ancient Hellenic Hēraklēs is a child (and great grand child) of Zeus. Hēraklēs was conceived by Zeus upon Alkmene, as He disguised Himself as her husband, returning early from war. Alkmene accepted Him in her bed gladly, as she was happy to see her husband again. When The real Amphitryon did return later that night, Alkmene realized what had happened, and told her husband. Amphitryon accepted her in his bed, regardless, and so she became pregnant with twins, one fathered by Zeus, and one by her mortal husband.

Hera, hearing of the affair, took an instant disliking to the unborn child. When it became time for Alkmene to give birth, Hera made Zeus swear a vow that a child born in the line of Perseus on this day would become King. Zeus agreed, and Hera hurried off to delay the birth of Hēraklēs and Iphikles, and hurry along the birth of Eurystheus (Εὐρυσθεύς), grandson of Perseus. Due to Hera's jealousy, he was stricken mad and killed the five sons he had by his wife. When he was released from his madness by a hellebore potion--provided by Antikyreus--and realized what he had done, he cried out in anguish, and went on a long journey to cleanse himself of the miasma caused by these killings. In the end, Hēraklēs became a God and ascended to Olympus where he became one of the primary heroes prayed to by the ancient Hellenes and  worshippers today.

Pythagoras (Robert Emms)
Pythagoras iss actually not a person from myth but an actual person. Pythagoras of Samos (Πυθαγόρας ὁ Σάμιος) was an Ionian Hellenic philosopher, mathematician, and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. He was an influential voice in philosophy, religion, mysticism and science in the late 6th century BC, and is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name. Because almost everything we now know about Pythagoras was written down centuries later, it may very well be that the theorem as well as anything else attributed to Pythagoras was discovered by his colleagues, students, successors, or even his mother.

Pythagoras in the series could very well resemble a young Pythagoras who has a penchant for triangles. He's very smart, analythical, and would do anything for his friends. He is incredibly loyal and while he would prefer to handle everything with words, he's not above taking out a butter knife in defense.

Medusa (Jemima Rooper)
I miss you, Medusa, please come back! Okay, with that out of the way: Medusa. It might be obvious, but the Medusa from the series is a far cry from the mythological one. She is obviously based off of Ovid's version of the myth, where she was a human woman--possiby a priestess to Athena--who was raped by Poseidon (within the temple walls) and punished by Athena for her transgression.

The link above leads to a long and detailed account of the varying myths of Médousa, and it's perhaps best to suffice here by saying that the snake-haired Gorgon known from mythology is mostly a Roman invention; in the Hellenic era, the head of Médousa brought protection and was thus placed on shields and armors, but also on ovens to keep children away from them.

Medusa from the series is kind-hearted, funny, independant and doomed to have something horrible happen to her--as predicted by the Oracle, at least to Jason. If the show sticks with Ovid, that terrible someting is not something I want to watch (thank you very much) and also doesn't fall into the age bracket of the show, so we will see if Medusa ends up with snakes for hair or not.

Pasiphaê (Sarah Parish)
As the Evil Queen, Parish is currently only riveled by Lana Parrilla's Regina Mills on Once Upon A Time when it comes to milti-layered depictions of an evil caricature. Pasiphaê is the wife of King Minos and stepmother to Ariadne, love interest of Jason. She is a true 'evil' Queen; plotting to further the agenda of her husband and manipulating said agenda so she gets the best out of it. Her plans were recently thwarded by Jason and mostly Ariadne, who called off the wedding between her and Heptarian--Pasiphaê's puppet. Pasiphaê's redeeming features lie in the scenes where she comforts and counsels Ariadne and shows that--whatever she is doing--she believes it to be for the best of the Royal House and the citizens of Atlantis; as misguided as that may be.

Pasiphaê is part of the Myth of the Minotaur. Minos, king of Krete, requested Poseidon raise a bull from the sea, which the King promised to sacrifice; but when Minos refused to do so, Poseidon caused his wife Pasiphaê to fall in love with the bull. The child that came from this union was deformed in such a way that he had the head of a bull and the body of a man. I am fairly certain the original Pasiphaê did not have magical powers, but the series version definitely has.

Ariadne (Aiysha Hart)
Ariadne is the daughter of King Minos. When Theseus came to the island of Krete, she fell for him and offered him a ball of yarn so he would be able to find his way out off the labyrinth that housed the Minotaur. Theseus defeated the Minotaur and took Ariadne and her sister Phaedra from their home in thanks for their help. That night, they slept on the beach but Athena woke up Theseus and told him to sail out now, and to leave Ariadne and Phaedra behind. He did, although it pained him greatly.

Ariadne was devastated but was found by the God of wine, Dionysos, and He took her as His wife. Ariadne gained immortality and is still married to her God, being a Goddess in her own right now.

Ariadne in the series is not quite there yet. Our Theseus-substitute has declared his love but there is no running away or actual cordship involved. Set up as the show's One True Pairing, I doubt Jason is going to leave her in the end so she can be snatched up by a God. Ariadne is developing into one fo the most interesting of the series--from the myth's lovesick young woman to a strong princess who would do anything to protect the people she loves and the subjects of Atlantis, whom she cares about as well. In her youthful ignorance, she has managed to antagonize her stepmother Pasiphaê who retaliated by having Ariadne's friend and servant killed, and thus, Ariadne is currently getting a steady dose of reality shoved her way. I, for one, hope she comes out of it stronger on the other side and that Korinna's death can serve as a catalist for this proccess.

How to you feel about the re-imaging of these classical characters? Is there anything you would change back or anything that stands out as a good writing choice for the creators? How do you feel about Atlantis in general, ad are you happy it will be back on Saturday? Let me know!

Image property: character portraits by BBC ONE, classical art by Wikipedia Commons.