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Proprietor Hercules (Roman name), also known as Heracles (Greek name), also known as Herc (Nickname)

A farmer knocked on Hercules' door. "Someone has stolen my olive trees!"

"An interesting case at last," thought Hercules. He sent the farmer home with a promise that he would investigate it. And investigate it he did. Hercules dimly remembered hearing about a competition between his half-sister Athena, goddess of wisdom, and his uncle Poseidon, lord of the sea, and an olive tree that appeared out of nowhere.

Off Hercules went to ask his aunt Hestia, goddess of hearth and home, the most important goddess of all to the ancient Greek women, to see if she knew anything about it.

Hestia laughed when Hercules asked her. "Athena and Poseidon? Yes, they did have a competition. I love my brother, but he can be such an idiot!" She laughed again. "Both Athena and Poseidon spotted a little coastal village at the same time. Back then, city-states were springing up all over Greece. Each one needed a god to watch over it. The gods were claiming these little villages as fast as they were springing up. As you know, when you claim a village, the townspeople have to build a temple in your honor and give you presents. Athena takes her job seriously, but Poseidon mostly wants the presents. Anyway, they both wanted to claim this little coastal village. Poseidon decided the townspeople should choose which god they wanted, Athena or himself. Of course he assumed it would be himself."

"Oh my," Hercules shook his head.

"Exactly. The people did not want to choose. Your sister Athena, the goddess of wisdom, daughter of Zeus, understood their worry. To solve things, she offered Poseidon a competition. Both gods would give the town a gift. The townspeople could decide which gift was the more useful. Whichever gift they picked, that god won. Poseidon took the deal. He slapped that specter of his against the against the side of the mountain. A stream appeared. The people were excited. A source of fresh water is so important!"

"That was clever," admired Hercules.

"He can be clever," Hestia agreed. "He can also be an idiot. When the townspeople tried to drink the water, they discovered it was not fresh water. It was salt water! Before Poseidon could produce something better, Athena waved her arm and an olive tree appeared. The people nibbled at the olives. They were delicious! But theirs was a coastal village. The people could not risk angering the moody Lord of the Sea. As it turned out, they did not have to choose. Poseidon chose for them. Poseidon proclaimed his niece the winner, and graciously gave her the village. The townspeople were so grateful that they named their village after her, which is how the city-state of Athens got its name."

"Athens! That must have been a long time ago," Hercules said, sounding disappointed. "And she only gave them one olive tree."

"One was enough. She didn't need any more. She was competing against a spring of salt water," Hestia laughed.

Hercules slumped. "It's a great story, Aunt Hestia. But it's not what I'm looking for."

"What are you looking for?"

"I'm looking for a whole grove of olive trees that were stolen from a farmer recently."

"A whole grove? Well, Athena and Dionysus had a competition a few days ago. There's a new little town up north that caught their eye at the same time. Athena challenged Dionysus to a competition, just as did with her uncle Poseidon. I thought for sure Dionysus would win. He gave the town a field of grape vines. But Athena gave the town a grove of olive trees. Those olive trees will provide wood for building homes. Olive branches make wonderful kindling for kitchen stoves and fireplaces. The olives can be used for food. The fruit can be pressed to release cooking oil. With grape vines, you have to wait, sometimes years, before you can harvest. That's fine if you're a farmer. You can focus on something else while your grape vines are growing. If you're a growing village, you need food and lumber now. The townspeople chose Athena. Your sister told me Dionysus left in a huff and took his vines with him."

"Thank you, Aunt Hestia! I knew you'd know. You keep such a close, caring eye on the women of Greece and what they need and what their kitchens need. No wonder they love you."

Hestia handed Hercules a fresh from the oven apple pie. "I'm glad I could help," she reached up and kissed his cheek. "Behave now."

Hercules knew he could not take the olive grove away from a growing village. But he could give the farmer something else nearly as good.

His next stop was the home of Dionysus. Dionysus owned Hercules a couple of favors. To sweeten the deal, Hercules brought Hestia's pie with him to the door, willing to share, thinking it might help him talk Dionysus, the god of wine, into giving the farmer the grape vines Dionysus had made, but not used, to replace the farmer's missing olive trees.

"I'll do it," agreed Dionysus. "It will cost you though - one whole apple pie. Provided Aunt Hestia made it and not you."

The farmer was thrilled. He promised Hercules a barrel or two of delicious red wine, once the vines bore fruit.

Although Hercules did not get to eat his apple pie, and had to wait to drink his barrels of wine, he did solve the case.

Hercules named it The Case of the Missing Olive Trees and filed it away with a growing stack of Case Files from the Hercules Detective Agency.