Sure, we know about the religious right and the religious wrong and everyone’s talking about whose god is better. And sure, we all know about the big three gods, but what about the classic gods? You got your Zeus, Apollo, Ra and all those gods who were worshipped by the ancient civilizations, hung out at neat places like Mt. Olympus and the basements of your better pyramids and have cars named after them. Them we know. Yet there are the hundreds of other gods, the rank and file gods who never had a group of stars named after them. It isn’t easy wrestling away the limelight for the likes of Neptune or Mercury but we’ve managed to unearth a list of these background immortals and their responsibilities:
Asphaltus – protector of streets and viaducts. According to legend, he was appointed by Jupiter to oversee all the roads of the Roman Empire. He could be found in the wee hours of the morning filling potholes or painting yellow lines down the middle of many streets. The saying was “All roads lead to Rome, but the traffic’ll be all backed up because of that @#!% Asphaltus and his tar bucket!” A number of Romans took to hanging little statues of Asphaltus on the rear view mirrors of their chariots. Associated with the Greek god Glasphaltite.
Dentus – the Romans worshipped Dentus as the protector of tooth enamel. Calves were periodically sacrificed to him to prevent cavities and plaque build-up. He was featured in an epic poem, “The Quest for the Golden Floss.” In time, Dentus was forgotten with Julius Caesar’s decree that all citizens of the Roman Empire must brush after each visit to the vomitorium.
Aphrotidy – goddess of obsessive-compulsive cleaning. You wonder why all those Greek temples were spanking white? Now you know.
Sid – Greek god of rocks. As the story goes, Sid, born without a personality, was forced to rule over the rocks since all the glory jobs were snagged by the more charismatic gods. Sid was an able administrator and under his direction rocks were categorized according to size under the headings of “Boulder,” “Stone,” “True Rock” and “Pebbles.” Legend also has it that Sid was the inventor of the game of marbles. Go figure.
Thump – Nordic god of large furry shoes. Legend holds that it was Thump who defeated Itch, the god of athlete’s foot, in a best-of-five beanbag toss. This freed the Scandinavians from the domination of Dr. Scholl’s.
Echo-echo – The little sister of Echo, who would follow people around, repeating everything they said until it got really, really annoying.
Phinx – Egyptian god who had the head of a lion and the body of a pigeon, making it dangerous to feed and a real bother to papyrus-train.
Cookie Pussus – god of the sacred festival “Buy one, get one free.” As overseer of the Roman year, it was he who declared that “Wednesday is Sunday” causing much confusion amongst the calendar makers. He was eventually usurped by Fudgeitus the Whale.
Backus – as god of the near-sighted, he was forced by the bossier gods to roam the earth saying things like “lovely cat you have there, heh-heh-heh” while petting a skunk or “I’ll just step over this crack here, by George,” before plummeting off a cliff or simply driving over rooftops believing he was on the interchange.
The Muse Brothers – the triplets (or quadruplets; it depends on which legends you see, the early ones or the later, more slickly produced ones). Known simply as “the Muses” or “Those Lunatics,” they were the cut-ups on Mt. Olympus. They were responsible for putting whoopee cushions on Zeus’ throne, taping “Smite me” signs on Hades’ back and tricking Aries, the war god, into going first in a contest to see who could hit the softest (“you win, ha-ha!”)
Pam – not to be confused with Pan, god of pastures and forests. Pam was the protector of non-stick cookware. According to Greek myths, Pam stole the secrets of slippery pots and pans from the gods and gave them to man. She was duly punished, given the Teflon touch, where everything she touched developed a gray, non-scratch surface.
Kegasus – winged brewmaster, best known for the creation of the toga party.
Smutenous – god of the Naughty Bits. He was rarely spoken of in public. Parents were reluctant to tell their children about Smutenous and the kids were forced to learn about him on street corners and the back of the school bus.
Herculon – god of plush nylon-pile carpets that resist stains.
Come to think of it, maybe we should stick with the more popular gods.