Is Ryan Murphy Part of the Strike Pantheon…. As Poseidon?

I haven’t dived into the mythic elements of Cormoran Strike as much as my fellow faculty here, mainly because it is out of my area of expertise.  However,  a couple of my comments on one of John’s lengthy posts on the topic, I speculated that:

  1. If Strike and Robin are stand-ins for Cupid and Psyche, their eventual child should be a girl with a name meaning “Pleasure.” and
  2. Charlotte could be an anti-Psyche in the same way Morris was an anti-Eros.  That thought let to the idea that her daughter with Ross might have a name meaning “Pain” or “Sorrow”– a moniker fitting for Jago’s fourth unwanted not-the-heir-child. I suggested Lolita, both short for Dolores and a nod to Nabokov’s most famous female protagonist.

As usual, I wasn’t exactly right, but the child’s name is “Mary,” for which one meaning is “bitter.”  More importantly, this makes Charlotte’s daughter a namesake to the original “Our Lady of Sorrows.”  (Aside:  her brother’s name, James, derives from Jacob and means “supplanter”–  fitting for one who is destined to receive the full inheritance at the expense of his siblings).

With the small amount of confidence that half-guess gave me, I’m going to plunge into a raging ocean of speculation:  that Robin’s new beau, DCI Ryan Murphy, will also play a mythic role in the series. Furthermore, he will play the role of that ill-tempered deity of oceans and horses, and father of Percy Jackson, Poseidon (Neptune to Romans).

Find out why after the jump.

My notion that Ryan Murphy could be a stand-in for Poseidon comes, quite simply, from his name.  Ryan means “Little king” and Murphy means “Sea warrior.”  Add that to his much anticipated vacation in the seaside Spanish city of San Sebastian, and the connection to the ocean god is clear.  San Sebastian is home to the Edificio Poseidon, an art/photography gallery.

This poses a bit of a challenge, as I can find no connection of Poseidon with the myth of Cupid and Psyche and only a marginal one to the story of Castor and Pollux, as John and Joanne Gray explained in an earlier post:

Castor and Pollux’ half-sister Helen of Troy, the brother’s abduction of the two “White Horses” didn’t end with a “happily ever after.” Those princesses were already promised to Lynceus and Idas, the Aphareides, whose dad was Neptune, and these guys weren’t willing to let go of their betrothed without a receipt. They gave chase, and, you guessed it, everybody dies.

But, there are a couple of stories about Poseidon, who was almost as prolific a rapist/seducer of mortal women as his brother Zeus, that may connect to the Strike narrative.  First, Poseidon, in addition to being ruler of the sea, was also the tamer of horses, making a natural connection to one half of the Gemini twins: Castor, breaker of horses and counterpart to Robin, the former pony-rider and current advanced driver.  We were reminded of her equestrian expertise when she supplied the “outdoor school” terminology to Midge, much as she prompted Strike with horse terminology back in Lethal White.


Greek mythology also supplies a rather disturbing horse-related story about one of Poseidon’s exploits.

Demeter was the Greek goddess of the grain, agriculture, harvest, growth and nourishment. Poseidon once tried to pursue Demeter but she rejected his love and tried to hide from him by turning herself into a mare. She then joined a herd of horses of King Onkios to disappear in the mix. However, she couldn’t conceal her divinity even in the form of a mare. Poseidon realized this and tricked Demeter by transforming himself into stallion and joining the herd. He then forced her to mate with him. Demeter was furious due to the assault and she retreated into a cave in order to purify herself. Her absence caused the death of crops and of livestock thus leading to a universal famine. Ultimately, she washed away her anger in the River Ladon. As a result of having intercourse with Poseidon, Demeter gave birth to a daughter named Desponia and to Arion, a horse with the ability to speak human language.

Interesting that we saw Robin make her first efforts at horticulture this week, with the tending of Strike’s gift philodendron. Is that a Demeter-indicator?

Plus, we have more god-sired twins, a la Leda and the Swan.  And they won’t be the only ones.

Remember the “Medusa stare” Robin gives Strike, as he racks up child abuse points against Jago Ross, apparently with more regard for securing his own professional future than for the safety of the children (not to mention the horse!) themselves? Long before Perseus chopped off her head, there was another Greek mythology figure with the hots for the soon-to-be-snaked-headed Gorgon. You guessed it, Mr. Sea-master himself.

Medusa was a ravishingly beautiful woman who was priestess to the goddess Athena. A requirement for being a priestess to Athena was that the woman should be a virgin. Medusa was deeply desired by Poseidon and he pursued her to great lengths. Medusa tried to escape him by running to the temple of Athena. Nonetheless, Medusa was found by Poseidon, who went on to rape her on the floor of the temple itself. After discovering this, Athena was filled with rage. Punishing her for losing her purity, Athena transformed Medusa’s beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. Medusa thus became a monster. Years later Medusa was slayed by the hero Perseus. This resulted in Chrysaor and Pegasus emerging from her neck. They are considered to be children of Medusa and Poseidon.

Hmm…  it doesn’t look like Medusa is someone you want to be compared to, if there is a Poseidon-character around.

This is all a bit hard to read, enough that I am actually hoping this is one mythological connection that turns out to be completely off base. Ryan seems like a nice enough guy, I am glad to see Robin dating and the last thing in the world I want to see happen to her is another assault, or the threat of one.  The connections of Ryan to Poseidon are pretty tenuous right now, but if he goes that direction, it’s a pretty ominous conjecture. Maybe Robin should pack that alarm of hers on her date, just in case.


  1. Egad, Poseidon! Wonderful post, Louise, if I’m a little dizzy with all that possibilities that erupt if this is the case.

    I enjoyed your search for Poseidon’s points of entry in the current myth-making Rowling-Galbraith is doing, but think there is a more obvious link.

    The one I thought of immediately is that Murphy-Poseidon would be battling Rokeby-Zeus in the albedo water novels that are to come. ‘Rokeby’ here has to be read, of course, as ‘Son of Rokeby’ or the demi-god Strike. The conflicts of Zeus and Poseidon are legion, if the God of the Sea always defers in the end to the God of Olympus.

    Perhaps more meaningfully, though, Poseidon is the cause of Odysseus’ ten years in exile after the Trojan War. Strike is on a soul’s journey of recovery and perfection, his return to Edenic spiritual life, which is played out in the allegory of his pursuing Robin, now Penelope. It looks like Murphy-as-Poseidon promises a very long road indeed for the Peg-Legged PI to return to his relationship with his beloved partner.

    Regardless, a game-changing find, I think! Hats off and huzzah!

  2. Louise Freeman says

    I hadn’t though of Zeus versus Poseidon but that’s certainly intriguing. Another possibility: What if it isn’t “Son-of-Zeus” but Zeus himself? Jonny does not have a clean record — what if Murphy has him as the target of some sort of drug (or tax evasion) investigation? This could re-open the door for some sort of Heroin Dark Lord story, especially if Strike somehow finds himself in position to collect evidence on a drug case involving the Deadbeat Dad.

    However, what I find most interesting in your comment is the “albedo water novels that are to come” line. Are you now considering TB-IMB a joint nigredo, per Extended Play? Or did the alchemical cycle actually end in TB (with the year-long cycle that paralleled DH) and start again in IBH?

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