GONE NOT SOON ENOUGH:
The tale of Ixion
I regret that I must memorialize this week's newest Underworld addition, but here in Tartarus lies Ixion, a foul and foolish man whose fate I sealed myself.
In life, Ixion, the newest arrival to our dark realm, was many things: a husband, a father, a king. But let me not get ahead of myself.
Ixion was born a Lapith, one of those warring mountain people, and was in fact their king. What kind of king he was I cannot say, for his wickedness outshines any fine legacy he might have left behind on the throne.
Ixion's first crime came when he neglected to pay Eioneus for the privilege of marrying his daughter Dia. When Eioneus stole Ixion's horses as payment, Ixion, wicked Ixion, invited his father-in-law to a fateful dinner party, then cast him into a pit and burned him alive.
Ixion should have traveled to Tartarus that moment, cast into shame and darkness. Indeed, all his earthly acquaintances thrust him aside, for he committed a crime so heinous he was the first to have done it — he killed his own kin. But alas, merciful Zeus forgave and cleansed him of his murderous impurities, and invited him to Olympus, where Ixion dined with the gods.
Not all of us deserve second chances, dear reader; Ixion certainly did not. For while in Olympus, the fool betrayed his kind host and lusted after our good lady Hera.
As always, the gods' justice prevailed, though in a twisted way, for Zeus saw Ixion's wandering eyes. He fashioned a cloud that resembled Hera and sent it to Ixion to test him, and Ixion lay with the cloud.
Thus, Zeus cast Ixion out of Olympus with a thunderbolt for his crimes and his intentions, all while Zeus disguised himself as a horse to lay with Dia, Ixion's wife. Most ironically, Ixion’s union with the cloud begot a race of horse-humans which you, dear reader, might know as the Centaurs, and which to this day war with Ixion’s people, the Lapiths.
And now Ixion spins here in the darkness of Tartarus. He at first travelled the skies, bound to a fiery wheel that spins eternally, but now the wheel continues on its path through this cavernous abyss, Ixion having received his judgment.
Indeed, Ixion is a strange case. Most mortals are handed their eternal sentence by Rhadamanthus, Minos, and Aeacus, the Underworld’s three judges. Ixion, having offended the king of the gods, was issued his punishment not by our regular enforcers of justice, but by Zeus himself.
And by me. I bound Ixion to this wheel, I sent him rolling across the skies per Zeus' command. I accompanied him here to the depths of hell and the despair of Tartarus. Tartarus is a terrible place; I would wish it on no one. Except Ixion.
For in life, Ixion was many things: a husband, a father, a king. A murderer, an adulterer, an ungrateful traitor.
Ixion is survived by his wife Dia and his supposed son Pirithous (who I have reason to believe is truly the child of Zeus and Dia's union).
Ixion leaves the family he betrayed nothing but a fool's legacy, eternally tortured by the winds of his own folly and the fire of his own lust.
Till next week,
God of herds, travelers and hospitality, roads and trade, thievery, cunning, diplomacy, language and writing
Special Messenger to Zeus
Author's note: For Ixion's tale, I've stuck mostly to the true structure and content of the story, just created a different perspective from which to tell it. Ixion’s tale was once well-known, but is now not as popular and an oft-forgotten piece of underworld lore. Ixion was, in mythology, a king of the Lapiths who murdered his father-in-law after Eioneus stole his horses, committing the first murder of a family member. He did sleep with a cloud he believed to be Hera after Zeus forgave him for the murder and he did, through this act, indirectly father the centaur race. Myths vary as to Ixion's fate — some say he spun in the sky, later myths say his wheel was redirected down to Tartarus. I've chosen to have him end up in Tartarus for the sake of my storybook premise. My only twist is that I've set the story after Ixion's death as an obituary to him, and made the storyteller Hermes, who carried out Ixion's punishment as directed by Zeus by binding him to a wheel to spin eternally. I editorialized a bit from Hermes' perspective, taking the view of a judge of Ixion's character and of Ixion's conduct toward the gods. As all my stories are written by Hermes, any opinion or subjective descriptions are my attempt to have his voice come through.
Bibliography: Ixion. Carlos Parada, web source.
Ixion. Wikipedia, web source.
Image Information: "Ixion," by Jose Ribera. Source: Wikimedia Commons.