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I’m sure Mistress Mythology, Luciana Cavallaro, has ancient Greek blood flowing in her veins. Her knowledge of the Greek Classics is already legendary on social media; that’s how I discovered her. She can make readers believe that she knew the goddesses she writes about, intimately and personally.

Accursed Women contains five legends in one volume, and is one of my favourite and treasured books:

 

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Luciana Cavallaro, who is a Perth teacher and historian, is adept at weaving ageless legends within a modern motif. Therefore her short stories are easy to read and allow us to see the ‘goddess’ in all women. Not only their feminine beauty and charm, but especially their jealousies, vindictiveness and intrigues. Have  we women all been cursed with these attributes and human weaknesses, one may well ask?

For instance, we all love Athene, the goddess known for her wisdom, courage, law and justice, just warfare, among many others. But she could also be heartless and capricious. It’s possible that Athene, the avowed virgin, was one of the earliest models for Christianity’s Virgin Mary. She was the chief priestess and protectress of the Temple built to honour the gods.

It was she, Athene, who welcomed the beautiful virgin sisters Medousa, Sthenno, and Euryale as priestesses into the safety of the Temple. They were in danger following Zeus’ declaration of war on the old gods. The three sisters were vivacious and competitive in all things, no different to the sibling rivalry we see in modern families. But when Medousa was raped by Poseidon in the Temple, everything changed for the sisters.  Poseidon sought revenge on an innocent girl. How dare the people of Athens choose Athene as their patron over he who had offered the precious gift of water. The goddess had merely offered the olive tree.  And wasn’t he, Poseidon, the most powerful god after Zeus? Through no fault of her own, Medousa, along with her sisters, were cruelly ejected from the Temple by Athene because of Medousa’s lost virtue. The ensuing horrors visited upon Medousa, which turned her into one of the Gorgones, are truly blood curdling.

Medousa the Gorgone

Medousa the Gorgone

The author mixes the chronology of events in Medousa’s story, Cursed By Treachery, which works well in highlighting the anger and power of ancient gods, and the vulnerability of their accursed female offspring caught in the throes of war and vengeance. Available here in e book format via AMAZON

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-Book Review Accursed Women by Anne Frandi-Coory 30 December 2013

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Mistress Mythology, Luciana Cavallaro

I have listed below links to previous reviews I have written for each of the other four stories included in the anthology – Anne Frandi-Coory

Accursed Women by Luciana Cavallaro:

Cursed by Treachery (Medousa’s story above) 

Aphrodite’s Curse

The Curse Of Troy; Helen’s Story

A Goddess’ Curse

Boxed In A Curse

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Published in March 2015 

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BOOK REVIEW for Search For The Golden Serpent

https://frandi.wordpress.com/2015/03/02/search-for-the-golden-serpent/

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ACCURSED WOMEN BOOK TRAILER:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZVsoFkZPo&feature=youtu.be

Aphrodites curse

APHRODITE’S CURSE  by Luciana Cavallaro – book review

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

My personal message to Phaedra:

Many of us mere mortals know that ‘unrequited love is a harsh companion’ but still…you made a promise to build a magnificent temple to Aphrodite beside the Akropolis in return for what?  To inflame your ‘bronze athletic’ step-son Hyppolytos with the same passionate lust you felt for him?  Oh, Phaedra, with your family history you should have known better. 

The author, Luciana Cavallaro allows the Princess Phaedra, daughter of King Minos, to tell her fateful life story in her own words.  She begins by taking the reader on a tour of the king’s ancestral palace, Knossos. Her vivid descriptions of the intensity of the colours and scenes gracing the walls must have dazzled and enthralled all visitors. Reading her words, as she walks us through porticos, endless corridors and the vast central court make me yearn to be there amidst the music, games, dancing and theatrics. Like her privileged mother and sisters, the princess enjoyed luxuries such as exquisite gowns, finest jewellery, and the most precious pottery.  These Kretan royals knew how to live!

Phaedra tells us proudly that the Kretans revered Nature and were conservationists. There are many contradictions in her accounts though; human and animal sacrifices were common.  The lives of superstitious ancient Greeks were just as fraught with all manner of subterfuges, intrigues, curses and violent jealousies as were their gods. The indefatigable thirst for vengeance, battles and assassinations taking place in this story make the strife in our modern world seem mere trifles by comparison.

The author weaves together many ancient Greek myths skilfully as the basis for Phaedra’s testimony about the lives and loves of members of her own family as well as others who play vital roles in her life story. This is a powerful autobiography in every sense of the word and makes for a very enjoyable read! The reader will recognise many names: Pallas, Ikaros, Ariadne, Theseus, Dionysos to name but a few. For a beautiful woman who had the world at her feet; fine husband, wealth, two dutiful sons, Phaedra risked it all only to be spurned. Her end was not a happy one.

One cannot even trust the Goddess of Love to get it right;  Aphrodite wasn’t above revenge!

Available here in e book format via AMAZON

  • Anne Frandi-Coory  23 September 2013

lucianacavallaro_accursedwomen_web_final-e1380531653175

Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of five Greek classics including ‘Aphrodite’s Curse’

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZVsoFkZPo&feature=youtu.be

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A Goddess’ Curse by Luciana Cavallaro, author and historian.  

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

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Drake Dabbler, a young journalist prone to theatrics, interviews an older woman of incredible beauty and stature. He reaches out to the studio audience to help him create a festive mood which he is sure will encourage  the interviewee to reveal innermost secrets about her life and loves. After all, no other person has ever been granted an interview with her and this could be a career-changing event for him.  As far as he’s concerned, this is rock star level entertainment.

But he is playing with fire, for she is no mortal woman; she is Hera, Olympian Goddess and Queen of the Gods. Wife and sister to no less a supreme being than Zeus!  As the interview progresses, Dabbler’s hubris begins to show as he flirts while Hera seems to play the game, albeit reluctantly at times.  Like most modern celebrities, Hera finds the media tedious with their probing questions and intrusions. Then Dabbler delivers a ‘Gotchya’ to the Queen which annoys her even more. One thing you do not want to do, is annoy Hera.  However, Dabbler misses the cue that his ‘quarry’ is inwardly seething; Hera so skilled in the art of revenge, narrows her ice blue eyes.  She who has battled with some of the most powerful gods and goddesses in history is pressed, by this young man,  to disclose the incestuous nature of her and her family’s relationships.

Dabbler doesn’t stop there, though. He brings up her husband Zeus’ numerous affairs and resultant illegitimate children. Her smile puts the young man at his ease, and this spurs him on. He then has the audacity to question Hera about their disabled child Hephaistos and the circumstances of his conception and birth.  Dabbler continues to embarrass the goddess with insults and questions about the intimate lives of her and her family. By now there is a disconnect between Hera’s smiles and her eyes.

Perhaps Dabbler’s preoccupation with thoughts of the awards he thinks he is going to win for this interview distract him from the changes in the Queen’s tone and the fixation of her eyes on his.  He dares to accuse her of what he sees as past excesses in war and her manipulative behaviour.  In her own defence, Hera protests: ‘We are divine…..We epitomise everything mortals aspire to be’.  It becomes alarmingly clear at the end of the staged drama just where Dabbler’s aspirations will lead him.

I enjoyed the detail about the lives and loves of gods and goddesses in this story. Tales about Hera’s far-reaching power are riveting and her  intrigues are sometimes surprisingly human.  Luciana Cavallaro is a wonderful short story-teller who knows her Greek gods intimately. If you are interested in ancient Greek history and the Olympian world, you will love this book as much as I do. Available here in e book format via AMAZON 

  • Anne Frandi-Coory 7 September 2013

lucianacavallaro_accursedwomen_web_final-e1380531653175

Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of five Greek classics including ‘A Goddess’ Curse

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZVsoFkZPo&feature=youtu.be

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Boxed In A Curse  –

Short Story by Perth author Luciana Cavallaro

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

Teacher and historian, Luciana Cavallaro, is adept at weaving ageless legends within a modern motif, and in this case, a fable that can also hold children spellbound.

Boxed In A Curse is a story most of us have known as ‘Pandora’s Box’. However, the vessel that held the curse was actually a pithos or large jar, sealed tightly with wax to keep ‘the evil’ within. Many archaeologists and Ancient Greek historians interpret the pithos as an analogy for Pandora’s vagina, and the fear that men associate with the wicked female temptress, the cause of man’s ‘downfall’.  The author’s title is a telling one; ever since Pandora unwittingly released ‘bad things’ [via menstruation] into the world, women have been confined by deep prejudice to a role as the ‘ruin’ of mankind.

The Greek mythological narrative informs us that numerous gigantic and powerful gods fought for supremacy over the earth and universe.  Wars were commonplace, but after a particularly vicious and bloody war that lasted ten years, Zeus entrusted loyal brothers Prometheos and Epimetheos with the task of creating creatures. The former constructed man in the image of the gods while the latter created all kinds of animals and birds. Zeus, an over-zealous and jealous god, was very concerned with Prometheos’ creation; man with intelligence and guile could challenge the will of the gods! And to make matters worse, Prometheos gave the gift of fire to man, after stealing it from the home of the gods.  Zeus was furious! In his anger he ordered Hephiastos, the divine smith, to make an entity that would ‘serve to be a gift of poison to man’.

Various gods in the hierarchy were summoned by Zeus to fashion this new entity with dexterity, sexuality, love, fertility and other qualities. Hera, queen of the gods and of marriage, endowed Hephiastos’ project with curiosity, a trait that would ultimately set off a chain of catastrophic events for mortals.  The first mortal woman, she who was infused with the gifts of the gods, was named Pandora. Both man and gods were enthralled and fascinated by Pandora’s beautiful perfection.

Pandora’s early life was filled with carefree days enjoying the wonders of the world until Zeus gave Pandora as a gift to Epimetheos, which didn’t exactly please her.  After a struggle with her desire to control her own life, Pandora accepted that she could not defy the gods. Later, during the marriage ceremony, the gods watched each other and Pandora, constantly making smart remarks laced with sarcasm and at times, snarls.  Needless to say, Zeus was not impressed with the heckling and bantering.

A quiet lull in the festivities enabled Hermes, on behalf of Zeus, to present the bridegroom with the sealed pithos. He warned Epimetheos not  to ever open it, but could say no more. Hermes advised him to issue the same warning to Pandora.

Over the years, Pandora and Epimetheos lived happily enough, although Pandora’s curiosity about what was contained in the un-opened wedding gift, never left her in peace. She thought it odd that she and her husband were forbidden from opening what was rightfully theirs. Cunning Zeus knew how to exploit the weaknesses of Hephiastos’ creation. When Pandora could resist temptation no longer, she broke the wax seal and opened the jar. From that moment on life changed for both mortals and immortals, but in the end, Pandora does manage to partly redeem herself.

Many Christian legends about the first man and woman on earth, and the creation of the world, have obviously been transposed from Ancient Greek mythology. Luciana Cavallaro juxtaposes the two in her own unique style.  She depicts many scenes between mortals and immortals with vivid detail, almost as though she was there in person at the time.  This, along with the modern setting in which she places Pandora’s story, made Boxed In A Curse such a relevant and enjoyable read for me. Available here in e book format via Amazon

Anne Frandi-Coory  22 August 2013

lucianacavallaro_accursedwomen_web_final-e1380531653175

Luciana Cavallaro has published an anthology of 5 Greek classics including: ‘Boxed In A Curse

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailerhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZVsoFkZPo&feature=youtu.be

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The Curse Of Troy;Helen’s Story  – book review

A Short Story by Perth author Luciana Cavallaro

See trailer below for  ‘Accursed Women’ anthology including this short story and 4 others by the same author…

I have always loved the story of Helen Of Troy. What free spirited woman wouldn’t?  But any story I have read about ‘the face that launched a thousand ships’ has been narrated by someone else; usually by a person who couldn’t possibly have known Helen.

Luciana Cavallaro has introduced a young and handsome historian to interview the Spartan beauty. Helen can finally speak for herself! She discusses her union with Menelaos and the reader can quickly ascertain that she was bored with her arranged marriage. Menelaos was a ‘good man’, but his interests were centred around war, decrees and intrigues within and outside the kingdom. These took up most of his conversation and energy.  Even though Helen was the rightful heir to the throne when her father died, her husband became king, and he refused to discuss the politics of the day with her. Helen was relegated to mere Queen in name only.

The Queen of Sparta had loathed Menelaos’ brother Agamemnon ever since she was a child. And now he always had the ear of Menelaos in secret talks she was excluded from. Her distrust of her brother-in-law would be vindicated in the future. Although the classic story of Helen of Troy is that the Trojan war was caused by Helen running off with Paris, Prince of Troy, or that she was abducted by him, Luciana Cavallaro allows Helen the scope to give her side of the story.   Needless to say, Agamemnon was heavily involved in the preparations for war with treasure rich Troy. As the reader will discover, the Battle of Troy had very little to do with Helen.

I have always had a passion for Greek Mythology and ancient history. Luciana Cavallaro’s books are easy to read and bring a new vitality to ancient Greek Classics.  So easy to download onto my tablet and to read on the train or when I want a change from the heavy reading & writing I am often engaged in. Available here in ebook format via Amazon

  • Anne Frandi-Coory 19 August 2013

lucianacavallaro_accursedwomen_web_final-e1380531653175

Author Luciana Cavallaro has published

an anthology of 5 Greek classics including ‘The Curse Of Troy; Helen’s Story’

‘ACCURSED WOMEN’ book trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTZVsoFkZPo&feature=youtu.be

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