Ancient Greek deities force Kirk and Spock on an odyssey of peril! — "What Fools These Mortals Be.." was a comic book story published by Gold Key Comics in 1978, the 53rd issue of their TOS series. It was the thirteenth comic drawn by Alden McWilliams and the fifth written by George Kashdan. In this story, the USS Enterprise encounters Zeus and other Greek gods from Mount Olympus.
- Lured to a strange world by unknown forces, the Enterprise crew soon find themselves enslaved by an unseen, irresistible power! But only a trip through a gauntlet of terror will provide the final, shocking answer to the nature of their immortal captors!
- Captain’s Log, star date 29:01.1
- We have diverted toward the border of the Perseus Arm, in response to an S.O.S. from the starship Pathfinder!
After saving the Pathfinder from three Klingon battlecruisers, James T. Kirk ordered the Enterprise back to its regular patrol sector. As they passed an unnamed planetoid, an unusual lethargy came over most of the crew. Kirk, Spock and Leonard McCoy beamed down to investigate, where they soon fought humanoid cannibals. When they were suddenly confronted by the mythological cyclops, Spock's suspicions were confirmed: they were reliving the adventures of Ulysses after the Trojan War on Earth from thousands of years ago, as written in Homer's Odyssey.
- Captain's log, star date 29:01.3
- A fissure, similar to a dimensional warp, has occurred in the atmosphere, revealing a place that is quite familiar to anyone who has read the Greek mythologies of Planet Earth!
As Mount Olympus appeared through the clouds, the landing party was taunted by Zeus, Hermes, Pan and other mythical Greek gods, then struck by gale-force winds from Aeolus. After dispersing the wind with phasers set on wide field, they fled to a Homeric ship alongside a river, then encountered hypnotic Sirens and a whirlpool created by Scylla and Charybdis.
Eventually the wooden ship docked alongside an inhabited Greek-styled city. Zeus reappeared, bragging about his influence over the civilization. Kirk balked at what the gods were doing, as it violated the principle of the Prime Directive. Zeus shot lightning bolts at him, and Kirk retaliated by having the Enterprise fire the ship's phasers at Zeus' feet, which made the city's inhabitants laugh. Insulted, Zeus turned his back on them all, telling his fellow gods that they were leaving, never to return.
- Aeolus • Charybdis • Pavel Chekov • Cyclops • Hermes • James T. Kirk • Leonard McCoy • Pan • Montgomery Scott • Scylla • Spock • Hikaru Sulu • Nyota Uhura • Ulysses • Zeus • unnamed Beings
- Referenced only
- devil • Homer • Sirens
Starships and vehicles
- boat • USS Enterprise • USS Pathfinder (Constitution-class heavy cruisers) • Homeric ship • unnamed D7 class starships
- Perseus Arm (planetoid) • Mount Olympus
- Referenced only
- Earth (Ancient Greece • Land of the Lotus Eaters)
Races and cultures
States and organizations
Science and technology
- atmosphere • boomerang • dimensional warp • deflector shield • equilibrator • hypnosis • medical tricorder • medikit • phaser • photon torpedo • planetoid • protoplaster • shield • spear • tractor beam • transporter
Ranks and titles
- alert status (battle stations) • animal • Articles of the Federation • atmosphere • beard • bird • brain • bridge • cannibal • city • civilization • dance • earthquake • evolution • helmet • lifeform • light-year • meat • minute • mountain • mushroom • music • mutiny • mythology • Odyssey • orbit • vegetation • Prime Directive • reptile • sciences division • second • sector • shipwreck • SOS • stun • thousands of years ago • thunderbolt • transporter room • tree • Trojan War • warp factor (warp five) • whirlpool • year
- TOS episode & Star Trek 7 novelization: Who Mourns for Adonais? – An encounter with Apollo.
- TOS comic: "Of Woman Born" – Sequel to the episode.
- NF novels: Being Human, Gods Above – Other appearances of Zeus and the Beings.
- The title came from a line in Act 3, Scene 2 of “A Midsummer Night's Dream” by William Shakespeare. (A Midsummer Night's Dream article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
- The story was translated into Dutch and German in 1978, but not reprinted in English until 2019. It had been scheduled to appear in The Key Collection, Volume 7 in 2007, but that omnibus was never published.
- Apollo was not mentioned, but this story most likely happened after the events of TOS episode & Star Trek 7 novelization: Who Mourns for Adonais?, otherwise Kirk, Spock and McCoy would have been less surprised by their encounter with Apollo.
- Kirk may not have included the Beings in his official report. After Kirk dictated it, Spock asked “Is that all you're putting in the report? What about Zeus and his Olympian playmates?” Kirk said he'd include that in a supplemental report. However, in 2376, when USS Excalibur Captain Mackenzie Calhoun reviewed Starfleet records of ships running into Greek gods, in NF novel: Being Human, he only found the logs relating to "Who Mourns for Adonais?".
- Chekov wore the red uniform of an operations division lieutenant in this issue, foreshadowing his role in later canon productions as tactical officer and security chief.
Identities of the Beings
- Hermes was not named, but he was known for his winged helmet.
- Pan was not named and had no dialogue, but was recognizable from his horns. Interestingly, he was not depicted with pointed ears, one of the traits for which Apollo compared him to Spock in "Who Mourns for Adonais?".
- The bearded god who wore a green toga was not named, but most likely was Poseidon. Since he was seen in Mount Olympus with Zeus, he was likely one of the seven major male Greek gods. But he was neither Zeus, Apollo, Aries (did not wear warrior garb), Hephaestus (no association with fire), Hades (did not wear black), nor Dionysus (no association with wine), leaving only Poseidon. Additionally, this character said that Ulysses hadn't been afraid of the challenges the gods put to him, as if he'd participated in those events. Poseidon was in the Odyssey, and he was also god of the sea, an enemy of Ulysses, and father both to cyclops and Charybdis. (Ancient Greek religion article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia., Poseidon article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
- The crowned goddess seen beside Zeus was unnamed and her identity unclear. She could be one of the five major female Greek gods. She probably was not Hera, who scattered herself to the winds. (TOS episode & Star Trek 7 novelization: Who Mourns for Adonais?) She was not Artemis, who was allowed to roam outside of Mount Olympus following the death of Apollo. (NF novel: Gods Above) She might be Demeter, Aphrodite or Minerva/Athena. She could also be Zeus' consort Dione. (Dione article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
- The title of the story had two periods at the end. The correct punctuation for omitted text is the ellipsis character (…). (Ellipsis article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
- When the landing party was being blasted by gale-force winds from Aeolus, Kirk strangely remarked that the air blasts had "the force of a hundred protons." One hundred protons could be found in 12 1/2 atoms of oxygen. (Oxygen article at Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
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- July 1978
- First published by Gold Key Comics.
- September 2008
- Included on The Complete Comic Book Collection DVD. (Graphic Imaging Technologies)
- 31 January 2019
- Reprinted in Graphic Novel Collection #55. (Eaglemoss)
- Dutch: In Ruimteschip Enterprise Special. (De Vrijbuiter)
- German: As "Odyssee des Grauens" in Raumschiff Enterprise Comic Sonderheft (Special Issue) #1. (Condor)