Granted, I'm supposed to be looking into (to quote myself, here) "Day-to-day life in the Classical Period of Ancient Greece, including specifics on the worship and temples and priests of Apollo", so technically I suppose I'm also procrastinating. See, I do have a book on the "Daily Life of the Ancient Greeks", but 1) it's duuuulllll, 2) it's written for teens, and is therefore a bit oversimplified, and 3) while it's absolutely chock-freaking-full of information about the daily life of Athenians, it's got all of about two wee paragraphs on the daily life of goatherds and/or shepherds and also priests of Apollo, which is what I really need. What I'm saying is that the book has a misleading title and it's irritating. Not to worry, I do have a list of other books to look into (thanks to a certain brilliant and generous librarian friend of mine); I just don't have them in my possession. Yet.
So I'm taking a break from said irritation, and reading Hamilton instead. And happily, like other research, it's a useful and fascinating procrastination. I've got this little story planned out for a brief, possibly violent, and certainly tumultuous love affair between Apollo and a mortal youth, so this particular reading is actually part of my character development for Apollo. And like most research, it's changing my story.
The thing is, since Apollo does exist as a well-known mythological figure, I need to walk a fine line between meeting certain expectations for his behavior, and also crafting my own version of him. I did start some development for him, which mostly entailed combining what I remembered about Greek mythology with what I needed for the story I'm creating. I then used that combination to help me come up with a basic plot structure for this particular lifetime.
Well, it turns out I missed a few important things.
As I've said before, research is character is plot. In this case, I forgot a few things: namely, that the Greek gods can often be cruel bastards with a marked indifference to human suffering. Not all of the time, of course, and actually Hamilton points out that Apollo is one of the more beautiful and less crude of the pantheon, but he stills does stuff like have his sister kill his unfaithful lover, and rabidly pursue an unwilling maiden until she begs for mercy and gets turned into a tree (one that's sacred to Apollo, just to add insult to injury).
I also learned - and this I don't think I ever knew - that Apollo is the God of Truth and Light. Hamilton puts this quite beautifully, actually, saying that "he is the god of Light, in whom is no darkness at all, and so he is the God of Truth. No false word ever falls from his lips." Apollo really cannot tell a lie, nor can anyone lie to him.
Both of these things are important facets of his character, and they change what I'd been planning. I was thinking about having Apollo's mortal lover be unfaithful to him, and get away with it. Well, now I need to reconsider. I can disregard parts of his mythology that don't suit my purpose (thank you, artistic license), but these pieces are so interesting and so full of potential for great conflict that I don't really want to discard them. Now, if his lover is unfaithful, I need to think about how Apollo finds out (because he always finds out), how he reacts, and whether or not he tries to have this lover killed - or even whether he kills him himself.
I'm not sure yet what exactly is going to happen, but I won't be giving much away if I say that both Apollo and his lover will die somehow. After all, I'm writing a book about the various lifetimes of two souls, so in order to move on to another lifetime, the current one has to end.
This is one of the great things about research: when you find something that really does shift the story. What could be better than figuring out what a vengeful, all-powerful god might do to punish his faithless lover? I'm rubbing my hands together gleefully even as I write this...