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When visiting ancient ruins, always read the instructions manual first.

Episode 66: In which the gods try to stop a wave of tourist destruction, and arrive at the inevitable conclusion: we need more gladiators.

This episode of Real Housewives of Mt. Olympus brought to you by the latest archaeological news on – and by CLAS-B 312 Plague, Disasters and Death in the Ancient World.

MINERVA, ROMAN GODDESS OF STRATEGY: Thank you everyone for coming. I’ve put all of us together to form a committee to discuss the recent surge of tourists damaging ancient sites.

VENUS, GODDESS OF SEXUAL DESIRE AND REALLY RELUCTANT WIFE OF VULCAN: I thought we already had a meeting about this. Jupiter was going to take care of it.

MINERVA: And how’s that going? Honestly, when was the last time dad actually solved any mortal problems?

VENUS: For that matter, when have any of us solved any mortal problems? And I for one am fine with that.

Not pictured: anyone helping.

JUNO, GODDESS OF MARRIAGE AND JUPITER’S SISTER-WIFE-QUEEN (you read that right): Why is Vulcan here? He typically leaves mortals alone, when he isn’t burying them in molten rock and ashes. Plus he’s totally useless.


MINERVA: He’s got a lot of experience dealing with tourists behaving badly. One fell into his Mt. Vesuvius workshop, and another rode a motorcycle into Pompeii. That’s also why Venus is here, since Pompeii is her city.

JUNO: And why am here?

MINERVA: You have the best track record for elaborately punishing mortals.

JUNO: Challenge accepted.

MARS, ROMAN GOD OF WAR: Why am I here?

MINERVA: The Colosseum has been another hotspot of tourist problems. And you’re the god of fighting.

MARS: Right. And why is he here? (points at Bacchus)

MINERVA: I have no idea. I didn’t invite him. He just showed up.

BACCHUS, ROMAN GOD OF BREAKING SOCIAL BOUNDARIES: (swaying) I heard there’d be wine.

MINERVA: There will not be. Let’s get started. The first issue at hand is tourists carving things into the walls of the Colosseum. Last week a teenager was caught etching her initials into Colosseum, and the very next day another teenager did the same thing. The best strategy is to identify the source of the problem. Any idea why mortals like doing this so much?

”You’re right, what this needs is more us.”

JUNO: Maybe they’re worried they’ll forget their initials unless they write them down. Let me take this one. I’m good with forgetful mortals. Pelias forgot to sacrifice to me once, and I implemented an elaborate Rube Goldberg machine scheme that took 20 years and the Voyage of the Argo to complete. But eventually I got him.

VULCAN: Maybe the tourists are trying to achieve their own immortality by forging a connection to something that has stood the test of time.

VENUS: What a stupid idea. Everyone knows the only way to achieve immortality is through beauty. Hard work like carving things is never the answer. Look how little Vulcan’s achieved.

VULCAN: Seriously?

MINERVA: I like Vulcan’s idea, except the one tourist specifically said he wouldn’t have done what he did if he had known the Colosseum was so old.

This guy.

JUNO: Wait, what? If he didn’t know the Colosseum was old, why was he even there? And why did he scratch his initials into it, if he thought it was just some recent building?

MINERVA: Oh this is yet a third tourist. This one carved his entire name and the name of his girlfriend into the wall.

VENUS: How romantic! And deeply stupid. Is that how they caught him, because they had the whole couple name?

Her body language says she’s really impressed by the gesture. #WorthIt.

MINERVA: No, he was caught on camera by another tourist. He even stared directly into the camera. So they had his name, his girlfriend’s name, and a great facial recognition profile. Catching these people is rarely the challenge. They’re not the brightest lights in the celestial spheres. The question is, how do we deter future bad actors?

MARS: Kill everyone.

MINERVA: For the last time, killing all mortals is not an option. No one will worship us if we do that.

MARS: Well, I’m out of ideas.

BACCHUS: (slurring) Maybe they’d had too much wine.

MINERVA: Who, the tourists?

BACCHUS: Everyone.

How could this possibly go wrong?

JUNO: I’m not one for deterrents, personally. I say we just wait until there’s a problem, find the culprits, and throw them to the gladiators.

VENUS: I say we throw their loved ones to the gladiators. Or maybe just some people standing too close by.

MINERVA: There aren’t any gladiators in the Colosseum anymore!

VULCAN: That’s your problem with their plan? Besides, carving your name into public buildings is a time honored tradition. Pompeii is full of ancient examples. When does it stop being archaeological evidence and become criminal evidence?

JUNO: I say we throw Vulcan to the gladiators.

MARS: You do like to throw Vulcan places.

VULCAN: Seriously?

MINERVA: THERE ARE NO GLADIATORS! But…maybe there should be. That would deter tourists from misbehaving, if criminals were executed in the arena, like back in the old days. We could even use wild animals, get around the unions.

BACCHUS: (hiccuping) I like panthers.

MINERVA: And we have a plan. See people? Committees do work.

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To learn more about the ethical dilemmas of smashing tourists and archaeology together, enroll in our 1-credit “appetizer” course CLAS-B 312 Plague, Disasters and Death in the Ancient World, coming in the first-third of Fall 2023 with no pre-reqs! Or to hear about how the Olympian gods were never, ever helpful, check out CLAS-C 205 Classical Mythology, also coming up Fall 2023, and earn GEC credits while you’re at it! While you’re waiting, make sure to check back for more dysfunctional family adventures of Minerva, Mars, Venus, Vulcan, and Juno. Can’t get enough of Ancient Greece and Rome? Earn a Classics Minor in just 15 credits!