Zeus’s Literary Journey Through Mythology Essay
Updated: May 22nd, 2021
Consideration of Hesiod’s poems is advisable to start with “Theogony” because it contains the cosmogony regarding pre-philosophy, which develops within the myth and destroys its rational understanding of the world. The poem tells the story of three generations born of Earth and Heaven (Uranides), sons and daughters of Kronos (Olympian gods and the main among them – Zeus), and also about people and giants. The beginning and the end of the stories are the chants of Zeus who took power over the world by force.
It seems that the truth taught by Hesiod is not in the description of the sequence of generations of gods, but the chanting of Zeus. The author also glorifies the laws “that govern everything,” the ruling of “the blessed gods of Olympus,” Hesiod, Theogony, p. 35 in GHM. He is interested in the steady state of the world and the dominant position of Zeus, according to which the author glorifies his qualities at the beginning and the end.
Although the main bloodline of the gods covers the birth of three generations, Zeus is at the center of the narrative. He releases “his brothers and sisters Uranides,” they give him the “thunder and smoky thunderbolt and lightning,” Hesiod, Theogony, p. 41 in GHM. The result of this act is the rule of Zeus: “he rules over mortals and immortals.” The episode about the sons of Japetos is placed in the center of the story as the conquest of the supreme power of Zeus over the people and gods. Here comes the inclusion of anthropogony in Theogony: the appearance of a human in the historical arena.
Prometheus, taking the side of people, tries to deceive Zeus. The deception lies in the unequal section of the carcass of a bull intended for sacrifice to the gods. Zeus sees the trick: the best part of the corpse was wrapped in skin and stomach, and the worst (bone) covered in “gleaming” fat, Hesiod, Theogony, p. 42 in GHM. Prometheus tries to help people avoid submission to the gods, and above all Zeus. Zeus is depicted in this episode as a cruel, ruthless god.
He sees deception and taunts Prometheus. His behavior is dominated by emotions, especially anger. Submission of people to Zeus turns into one of the central scenes of the struggle of Zeus and the Olympian gods for “power and honor.” While Prometheus was forgiven in the end, the author argues the idea of the impossibility of deception of Zeus and the inevitability of his anger.
In this context, Hesiod tells about the appearance of humanity: Gods create one half of the human race. A woman, “a beautiful evil thing to pay for the good one,” was created on misfortune to people, Hesiod, Theogony, p. 43 in GHM. Zeus represents a brutal cult, before which men should lie in fear and awe. The attempt to deceive Zeus led to the greatest evil in the life of mortals — the creation of women. The creation of a human is included in the context of honoring Zeus as the most powerful god, as well as the idea of the secondary nature of women in the society of that time. Here Zeus appears to be a vengeful arbiter, who does not tolerate deception.
The mighty warrior of the first narratives, the supreme ruler of the second, and vengeful, capricious dictator in the third case, Zeus has many hypostases, and the second part of his behavior is more appealing. The recurring motif of the parent’s crime against children with Zeus’ claim as “king and master” is interrupted. Cosmogony clearly describes Zeus’ order, the cosmic balance, and the harmony of the world.
In Hesiod’s Theogony, the same world is taken in two dimensions: mythological and cosmogonic. Both dimensions contain the corresponding images of Zeus: the powerful and furious god, in the first case, and the wise guardian of the world in the second place. Man is present in the world in both dimensions. Hesiod, although he speaks of the need for sacrifices to the gods, proclaims the idea of natural and social order, law and justice.
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Greek and Roman Perspectives on Male Friendship in Mythology Essay
Updated: Apr 28th, 2021
Classical literature, including Greek and Roman mythology, includes numerous examples of close male friendship. The specific perspective of the Greeks and Romans on same-sex relationships is supported by various mythological situations, where the hero must rely on the help of a trusted male companion or other such stories. The reason for such attitude can be found in the patriarchal culture and the dominant role of free adult males in the Greek and Roman social life. Moreover, male friendship was considered to be a positive concept for the society and was encouraged in the culture. This paper seeks to further expand this thesis and find examples in history and mythology to prove it.
In Ancient Greece, the social order was largely patriarchal, which meant that the male social roles were often prevailing. Boys lived in women’s quarters but were obliged to attend the gymnasium with their peers to study various disciplines, including physical education. Although the culture of courting younger boys was socially accepted and even encouraged, adding to the concept of preparation for future manhood and war, sexual intercourse was not always the unique outcome of this practice.
As the boys were separated from the society of women, except their own family, until they were coming of age, the occurrences of strong and enduring friendships among peers or boys of different ages were inevitable. The meaning of friendly relations in the life of an adult Greek man was significant; in fact, according to Barry Powell, “in the Archaic and Classical Periods, a man divided his social relations into clear camps of friends and enemies; a man was measured by the richness of gifts to his friends and the thorough punishment he gave to his enemies.”1.
It was a friend to whom the man could turn to in the time of trouble and on whom he could always rely in search for help and support against his enemies. Such attitude has found its reflection in mythology. For example, the some of the most well-known myth where the hero relies on his closest friend includes the story of Achilles and Patroclus of Homer’s “Iliad” or Heracles and Iolaus in the myth of Heracles Twelve Deeds.
The pattern of the story usually follows the folklore and incorporates some specific patterns. Powell notes that in this case, the pattern would be such that the hero’s best and truest companion is always another male. Although the researchers still argue whether the relationship between Achilles and Patroclus in Homer’s masterpiece was purely platonic, or they were actual lovers; still, it is evident that the emotions of both men were strong and tender, and the grief and rage of Achilles after Patroclus’ death could be easily explained from both points of view.
In ancient Rome, however, the concept of friendship did not change much from the views of Greeks but rather developed and extended it to other areas of social life. The idea of friendship in Rome also included specific types of relationships, such as patronage, where deference existed between unequal individuals. Friendships were formed due to usefulness, desire for camaraderie, or mutual affinity.
Sometimes in various researches, it is also mentioned that friendship in Rome, probably even more often than in Greece, was encouraged between comrades-in-arms who were thought to fight better with a friend by their side and avenge one’s death with double efforts, like mythological Achilles. Some of the stories depicting male friendship and relations include the myths about Nisus and Euryalus, the part of the “Aeneid” by Vergil, as well as Damon and Pythias, the legend, which was thought to describe an ideal friendship by Pythagoras. Another pair of friends who were sometimes mentioned in Roman literature was Orestes and Pylades, from the Greek myth of Orestes, son of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon.
All of these myths illustrate the concept of friendship and devotion of male companions, who are willing to give their lives for each other and try to follow their friends everywhere in their quests. These relationships are also often doubted to be purely platonic by nature; however, homosexuality in Ancient Rome was a concept taken not as lightly as in Greece, although the so-called Greek way was popular during several periods of Roman history. Just like patronage, the idea of homosexual relations relied heavily on the paradigm of domination, and for a free adult male, it could be shameful to be engaged in such a relationship. It is difficult to distinguish the ancient descriptions of friendship and love relationship from the modern point of view, as the Western mindset was largely influenced by Christian culture and ideology.
The patterns and archetypes in ancient mythology have been similar for many cultures and time periods. The myths of Greece and Rome bear similarity with ones of Mesopotamia and the Ancient Middle East. Being highly patriarchal, these cultures would often pick the mythological patterns that could best serve the purposes of explaining the way things went in everyday life and of setting the right order of things in the mindset of every citizen.
However, this was not the only, and probably not the primary goal of male friendship pattern in mythology. Friendship and companionship, as well as love and devotion, were considered to be positive emotions, and usefulness to a companion was also able to ensure the stability of the society in general. The myths praised what was thought to be good and right, proposing the examples of true friendship that survived through the ages until the present day.
Powell, Barry. A Short Introduction to Classical Myth. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002.
- Barry Powell, A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002), 161.
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Political Concerns in the Greek and Roman Mythology Lens Essay
Updated: Apr 28th, 2021
A few of the well-known plots of Greek and, subsequently, Roman myths involve the references to specific political concerns, for example, when one party strives against another for the throne. Such mythological concept did not appear occasionally, but rather it was a lesson, conveyed through the story to the hearers of the myth. The literary sources have always been an easy source for reshaping and served as a convenient platform for spreading contemporary political opinions. However, there were numerous reasons for the introduction of such political subtext into the fabric of the mythological narrative, and this research intends to address some of them, citing authoritative sources.
Most of the known literary sources of Ancient Greece belong to the Archaic.
The period when myths were transformed from oral to written stories and eventually took on their final form, and the Classical Period, when Greek tragedians and historians have reached the peak of their creativity, leaving various written sources, some of which have survived until the present day1. At least three of the most famous literary masterpieces of antiquity, Homer’s “Iliad” and “Odyssey,” and Hesiod’s “Theogony” belong to the archaic period of Greek history.
All of them include instances of political opposition, both real and allegoric. For example, the Iliad shows the confrontation between men, manifesting in a war between Troy and Greece, and gods, illustrated by examples of Poseidon opposing Apollo, with an allegoric meaning of water standing against fire, et cetera. The rulers of Troy represent the opposing qualities, as well: Priam is shown as a kind and compassionate but weak ruler who is unable to override the decisions of the corrupted council and his own son, Paris.
At the same time, Paris is seen not as a single villain of the story, but more of an egoistic and self-centered youth, who puts his desires above everything else, and who is corrupted enough to bribe the council of Troy to confront the decisions of his father. Homer is the first teller of the ancient myth about the Trojan war to both attract sympathy for the Trojans and warn against the flaws of such a government. Indeed, the rulers of Troy in the Iliad are seen as the main source of trouble from the human point of view, without regard to the will of gods.
Hesiod’s “Theogony” is a perfect illustration of patriarchal forces and the fight for power. According to Barry Powell, “Greek myths … report a cosmic history that begins with mighty powers of nature and ends in the organization of the universe as a monarchic, patriarchal state … mythical traditions make use of the motifs of succession and dragon-combat.”2. The history of world creation, as seen by ancient Greeks, is an endless battle of several generations for power and glory, where either party often descends to treachery and cunning, along with brute force and political bias. Some researchers also claim that such paradigm and its mythological reflections signified the transition from matriarchal to patriarchal culture, and the new philosophy had to be established in the mindset, for example, through mythology.
Roman culture, being largely a successor to Greek, has incorporated into its own mythology the same political concerns that were characteristic of the myths of Ancient Greece. However, for Romans, the stories and myths have become even a more convenient and flexible tool for putting into effect various contemporary political ideas. Such subtext can be found in peculiar Roman myths, such as the praise of the civil duty in a story of a man who burned his left hand to show an enemy his stoicism, or the myth of the foundation of the Roman Republic, which has been altered and told in such way that it would “acknowledge the success of those who defended the Republic, and the failure of those who tried to destroy it.”3.
The more basic, cosmogonic, and heroic myths were also altered according to the needs of the politics to fit the specific requests of the contemporary rulers or philosophers. Barry Powell, in his book “A Short Introduction to Classical Myth,” notes that “several Roman poets … told stories to explain the origins of Roman power and its obligations to the Roman ruling class. Myth, for such poets, was a kind of propaganda, reinforcing the high ideals of the Roman government.”4.
He continues then that the Roman gods of family and household, keeping the native traditions of the Roman people, as opposed to the deities borrowed from Greek culture, have been able to transform the understanding of the state to see it as a larger family. The key to the change in the mindset was the vision of gods as abstractions instead of anthropomorphic essences, thus, these entities were able to extend their grace and protection from a certain family to another abstraction, the state.5.
Another important Roman myth was told in the “Aeneid,” written by Vergil around 19 BC. This myth follows the Greek story of Aeneas, the Trojan hero who managed to escape the war downfall of Troy. The Romans have immediately found in Aeneas an ancestor with divine blood, as he was born from a mortal man and goddess of love, Aphrodite. The myth had been elaborated and updated in such a way that Romulus and Remus, the founders of the Roman Republic, could have traced their own origins down to Aeneas himself. This myth has quickly become one of the most respected and favored among others in Rome, and many rulers and emperors have tried to take advantage of it.
From the abovementioned examples, it can be seen that mythology has always been a source of delight and entertainment but also served the purpose of spreading political opinions and concerns. This can be easily explained, as Powell notes, because “humans are myth-making animals, retelling ancient stories to fulfill present needs.”6.
Course Notes: Unit 1 to Unit 14. Canada, 2015.
Powell, Barry. A Short Introduction to Classical Myth. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002.
- Course Notes: Unit 1 to Unit 14 (Canada, 2015), 4.
- Barry Powell, A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002), 94.
- Course Notes: Unit 1 to Unit 14 (Canada, 2015), 67.
- Barry Powell, A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002), 193.
- Barry Powell, A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002), 196-197.
- Barry Powell, A Short Introduction to Classical Myth (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, 2002), 202.
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Mythological Story of the Hero’s Journey Essay (Critical Writing)
Updated: Apr 20th, 2021
Dana silently watched the village burn with all its residents. She could have used her magical powers to stop the fire but was not sure if there was a point in doing so since the money the villagers owed her was likely to have turned into ashes by now. The village stood no chance in the attack of her rival warlock Averis known to be the strongest of the magicians, the high caste. Humans, the low caste, were the common targets in the games of magical beings.
This time was no exception. During the games, the warlocks had to select missions. Averis chose to destroy the village; Dana, as his competitor, was to protect it. The residents promised Dana a reward to motivate her to care about them, but she ended up defeated because her cheater-rival began attacking the village before she even got there. Due to this defeat, everything was ruined – her money, her reputation, and her chance to become a senior warlock. Besides, protection missions were initially doomed to failure because they were based on warding spells that required care as the main ingredient, and caring about human settlements was something the high caste was simply incapable of.
Dana felt wrath boiling inside her, she could not take the mockeries of Averis anymore; she had to find him and take him down in combat.
-Lady wizard! Help! Please! – Suddenly, a human appeared out of the smoke; he looked terrified, – Lady, there is a little girl in a burning house! – He pointed at the fire. Dana ignored him fantasizing about her merciless punishment for Averis. The human was very loud, he kept screaming and waving his hands. –You have to help her, please! – Dana realized that he would not leave.
-Why? – The warlock finally looked at the man; his face was covered in soot.
– She needs you!
-Needs me? – Dana raised her eyebrows fascinated with the phrase, but the human refused to explain. Instead, he grabbed the warlock’s sleeve, trying to drag her towards the burning house. Dana reacted with a self-protection spell that hit the man throwing him on his back. With a groan of pain, he got up on his knees and crawled towards Dana continuing to beg for help for some girl.
-Do you have money? – She asked.
-No, lady. Everything I had was destroyed in the fire. Please help the girl. I will pay you back, I will serve you.
With a sigh, Dana stopped the fire, and the man immediately ran into a house and found the child. It was female and looked approximately five to six years old. The servant was permitted to take the child with him while accompanying Dana on her quest to the lair of Averis. Soon, Dana regretted her decision because both humans turned out to be a good-for-nothing. The man possessed no useful knowledge; the child was utterly pointless, they both were noisy and kept asking questions.
– My lady, you are a wizard, cannot you fly to the lair of Averis?
-No, only senior warlocks can levitate.
-Why is night dark?
-Because light created by the warlocks of the past needs to be re-charged.
The journey took days, and for this whole time, Dana was forced to listen to humans and observe them. Eventually, she started to find it fascinating. The concept of “needing someone” was strange to her. She understood why the child needed the man who fed it and kept it safe, but she struggled to understand why the man would need such a useless child. Moreover, the girl tried to befriend absolutely everything around – birds, plants, small animals. One evening she threw herself at the rabbit when Dana was about to kill it for dinner.
-What is the child doing? – The warlock asked the man.
-She is trying to protect the rabbit, – He replied.
Dana grabbed the child and lifted her in front of her face.
-Girl, teach me to protect. It will help me to defeat my rivals because none of the warlocks know how to cast protection spells, they only can protect themselves. Being able to protect villages like yours is a necessary condition for me to become a senior warlock.
The child smiled and agreed to teach Dana, which the magician began to regret on the very next day. The little girl’s way to teach protection was incredibly stupid and useless. Dana and the child had to spend hours staring at pointless things such as insects and birds. The girl believed that to protect others one needs to like them. The man used to smile a lot during the journey but eventually became more serious once they approached the lands of Averis, dark and dangerous territory. He would never let the child walk alone, preferring to carry her instead.
-Are you protecting the girl when you carry her like this? –Wondered Dana.
-Of course, lady. I would not want her to get hurt. I would also protect you if I could.
– And what should I do to protect you? – Dana felt at a loss not knowing how to react to the generosity of the weak human.
-You should have let us go before we approached these scary lands, lady. We are in danger here.
-You are my servant, and I am going to use you during my battle. I do not care what happens to the child. – Coldly responded Dana thinking of ways how to sneak up to the lair of Averis. Her plan was never meant to happen, as Averis revealed himself right behind her back.
-Dana! Did you think you could enter my lands unnoticed? And what is that? Did you bring me a couple of humans as a treat? Are you trying to bribe me to be kinder to you during the next battle?
-I am planning to defeat you in a duel and make you stop your series of cheating with protection tasks. I will not let you…
Dana could not finish her address since she was knocked off her feet by a powerful attack spell. Averis has never been a noble fighter. Without letting her get up he stroke again and again. Dana realized she had no chance from the very beginning, and prepared to die when the powerful waves of violent magic suddenly stopped. Dana glanced at her enemy, he looked baffled, rubbing his head that was hit by a rock. Dana built a magic shield protecting herself.
-Run, run! – Screamed the human, who threw the rock to save her.
-Are you talking to me? –yelled Dana, trying to maintain the shield under the renewed attacks of Averis, – because your stupid child is running already!
-Oh no! – gasped the man, and followed the girl, it took him a moment to catch the child and fall on the ground covering her with his body.
Averis threw a bolt of lightning at them. Typically, this moment would have been used by Dana to attack the distracted enemy, but that time she chose to throw a magic shield to intercept the lightning and prevent it from reaching the target. The battle was over that very second. The rivals were no longer equal as Dana won the duel by casting a protection spell and becoming a senior warlock.
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Greek Mythology Essay
Updated: Apr 10th, 2021
Identification of the item
Hera is a goddess who symbolizes marriage and femininity; she is the daughter of Cronus and Rhea. This deity is often associated with the peacock and the cow. Allegedly, this goddess protects such an island as Samos as well as the city of Argos.
Hades is the god of the underworld, and he is the son of Cronus and Rhea. This deity governs and sometimes punishes the souls of deceased people. This deity is often accompanied by the three-headed dog, Cerberus.
Dionysus is the god who represents wine-making, the fertility of the soil, drinking, and even theater; he is the son of Semele and Zeus. This god grew up in the kingdom Phrygia located in Anatolia. He usually wears the skin of a leopard.
Prometheus is the Titan who gave the fire to human beings and taught them various skills and arts such as medicine. He is the son of Iapetus and Clymene. Prometheus was punished for his theft of fire, and he was chained to a mountain in Caucuses.
Titans are the children of primordial deities, namely, Uranus and Gaea. They are the opponents of Olympian gods. Titans are not associated with any geographic region. There are several generations of Titans, and these divine entities can perform several functions; for instance, Atlas is supposed to hold up the sky.
Gaea is one of the primordial deities, and she can be viewed as the personification of the entire Earth. Gaea is a self-borne deity; so, she does not have any parents, unlike Olympian Gods. The name of Gaea is sometimes linked with such a region as Delphi because she guided the oracles serving in the local temple.
Hera is mentioned in different primary sources such as Homer’s Iliad (2006) and Hesiod’s (2004) Theogony. These authors depict the birth of Hera and her interactions with gods as well as heroes.
Hades is depicted in Theogony by Hesiod (2004) and Homer’s Odyssey (2006). For instance, Homer (2006) writes about Odysseus’ travel through the underworld governed by Hades.
Dionysius is described by various ancient authors. For example, one can refer to Hesiod’s (2004) works and Ovid’s Metamorphoses (2010).
One can refer to Hesiod’s (2004) books to learn about Prometheus and his conflicts with Olympian gods.
Titans are mentioned by Hesiod (2004).
The story of Gaea and other primordial deities is told by Hesiod (2004).
Discussion of critical points
The presence of such a deity as Hera shows that the family was one of the key values for ancient Greeks. Moreover, this goddess illustrates the responsibilities of a wife.
The representation of Hades and his underworld in ancient myths suggest that Greeks did not have an optimistic view of the afterlife. In their opinion, these experiences were deprived of any joy.
Dionysus challenges the rules and values established by Olympian gods. For instance, he does not value power that is one of the top priorities for his father, Zeus.
Prometheus is a cultural hero who enables human beings to build their civilization. One should bear in mind that this myth is present in various ancient cultures. For instance, it is possible to consider the Georgian epic character named Amirani, who is also renowned for giving fire to people.
Titans succeeded in overthrowing primordial deities, but they could not retain their power. However, they were subdued by Olympian gods. To some degree, this example indicates that brutal force is eventually conquered by rationality.
Gaea and other primordial deities represent the uncontrolled forces of nature. In contrast, Olympian gods symbolize various qualities of human beings, such as rationality.
Hesiod. (2004). Hesiod: Theogony, Works and Days, Shield. (A. Athanassakis, Trans.). Baltimore, MD: JHU Press.
Homer. (2006). Homer – the Iliad and the Odyssey. (S. Butler, Trans.). New York, NY: El Paso Norte Press.
Ovid. (2010). Metamorphoses. (W. Johnson, Trans.). New York, NY: Hackett Publishing.
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Homeric Hymn No. 2: Translations Comparison Essay
Updated: Mar 19th, 2021
This essay will compare two English translations of the poem “Homeric Hymn No. 2” from the classical Greek text the Homerica, composed by Homer in the 7th century BCE. The first translator is Hugh G. Evelyn-White, and the year of publication is 1914. The second translator is Helene P. Foley, and the year of publication is 1994. After reviewing the two translations, this paper will argue that the version by Foley ranks as superior to the version by Evelyn-White, and the argument will utilize the following passages to prove said claim: the abduction of Demeter’s daughter by Aidoneus, the description of Demeter’s grief at the loss of her daughter, and finally, the description of the scene in which Zeus offers a truce to Demeter and sends Rheia, her mother, as his envoy to negotiate for the return of spring.
First, the essay will compare the opening description of Demeter by each translator:
|Evelyn-White (1914)||Foley (1994)|
|I begin to sing of rich-haired Demeter, awful goddess — of her and her trim-ankled daughter whom Aidoneus rapt away, given to him by all-seeing Zeus the loud-thunderer. Apart from Demeter, lady of the golden sword and glorious fruits (Evelyn-White 1-2)||Demeter I begin to sing, the fair-tressed awesome goddess, herself and her slim-ankled daughter whom Aidoneus seized; Zeus heavy-thundering and mighty-voiced, gave her, without the consent of Demeter of the bright fruit and golden sword (Foley 2)|
When you compare the words used in Evelyn-White’s version, “awful” versus the word “awesome” used in Foley’s version, is clear that Foley’s words provide a clearer characterization of Demeter herself (Evelyn-White 1-2; Foley 2). For instance, Foley’s descriptive language immediately and accurately portrays Demeter’s power as a member of the gods of Olympus, a force to be reckoned with, whereas Evelyn-White’s use of the word “lady” makes Demeter seem mortal, and therefore less of a threat (Evelyn-White 1-2). Also, Evelyn-White’s use of the words “rapt away” make no sense to the reader (Evelyn-White 1-2). Conversely, Foley’s use of the word “seized” immediately clarifies for the reader that we are witnessing a violent abduction (Foley 2).
For the second point, the paper looks at how each of the translators describe the grief that Demeter suffers at the loss of her daughter, and the depression that besets her immediately following Persephone’s abduction:
|Evelyn-White (1914)||Foley (1994)|
|But grief yet more terrible and savage came into the heart of Demeter, and thereafter she was so angered with the dark-clouded Son of Cronos that she avoided the gathering of the gods and high Olympus, and went to the towns and rich fields of men, disfiguring her form a long while. (Evelyn-White 2)||A more terrible and brutal grief seized the heart, of Demeter, angry now at the son of Kronos with his dark clouds. Withdrawing from the assembly of the gods and high Olympus, she went among the cities and fertile fields of men, disguising her beauty for a long time. (Foley 6)|
A comparison of these two passages indicates that Foley’s words have more poetic charge and power than Evelyn-White’s, which make for a more engaging read. For example, in Evelyn-White’s version, he uses the words “came into the heart of Demeter” to describe the grief of the goddess, while Foley translates it simply as “seized the heart” (Evelyn-White 2: Foley 6). Foley’s translation is more muscular, less passive, and more compelling in the poetic sense. Similarly, Evelyn-White uses the words “she was so angered” to describe Demeter’s feelings towards Zeus, while Foley simply writes “angry now” (Evelyn-White 2: Foley 6) Foley’s translation represents an active, more emotionally-charged read, with far less usage of passive verb forms.
Finally, let’s examine how each translator depicts the scene where Zeus sends Rheia, Demeter’s mother, to bargain for the return of spring:
|Evelyn-White (1914)||Foley (1994)|
|And all-seeing Zeus sent a messenger to them, rich-haired Rhea, to bring dark-cloaked Demeter to join the families of the gods: and he promised to give her what right she should choose among the deathless gods and agreed that her daughter should go down for the third part of the circling year to darkness and gloom, but for the two parts should live with her mother and the other deathless gods. Thus he commanded. And the goddess did not disobey the message of Zeus; swiftly she rushed down from the peaks of Olympus and came to the plain of Rharus, rich, fertile corn-land once, but then in nowise fruitful, for it lay idle and utterly leafless, because the white grains was hidden by design of trim-ankled Demeter. (Evelyn-White 5)||To them Zeus, heavy-thundering and mighty-voiced, sent as mediator fair-tressed Rheia to summon, dark-robed Demeter to the tribes of gods; he promised, to give her what honors she might choose among the gods. He agreed his daughter would spend one-third, of the revolving year in the misty dark and two-thirds, with her mother and the other immortals. So he spoke and the goddess did not disobey his commands. She darted swiftly down the peaks of Olympus, and arrived where the Rarian plain, once life-giving, udder of earth, now giving no life at all, stretched idle, and utterly leafless. For the white barley was hidden, by the designs of lovely-ankled Demeter. (Foley 24)|
A comparison of these two passages reveals numerous instances where the action is muted somewhat by Evelyn-White’s choice of words, whereas Foley’s word choice offers a much clearer delineation of the power struggle at play between Zeus and Demeter. For example, Evelyn-White uses the words “all-seeing” to describe Zeus (Evelyn-White 5). This language implies omnipotence, and a quiet calm, confidence. Conversely, Foley describes Zeus as “heavy-thundering” and “mighty-voiced,” which diminishes his power somewhat, suggesting that Zeus makes a lot of noise and shouts a great deal, but makes no allusion to his omnipotence (Foley 24). If anything, these descriptors characterize Zeus as bit of a bombastic blowhard who bullies his way to power.
Similarly, Evelyn-White describes Rheia as a “messenger,” while Foley uses the word “mediator” (Evelyn-White 5: Foley 24). This is extremely significant. Messenger connotes a powerless individual, simply being sent on an errand of little import. A mediator, meanwhile, suggests that Rheia herself has power, and that Zeus needs her help, because he has not been able to bend Demeter to his will.
In conclusion, Helene P. Foley’s 1994 version of the “Homeric Hymn No. 2” stands as a superior translation to that of Hugh G. Evelyn-White as it offers considerably more clarity in characterization, action, and power dynamics implicit in the story between Zeus and Demeter. Foley’s translation also contains more poetry, and thus reflects Homer more truthfully. Foley’s powerful and engaging language creates a more compelling read. Evelyn-White’s words offer less poetry, which equates to less interest overall for the reader.
Hesiod, Homeric Hymns, Epic Cycle, Homerica. Translated by Evelyn-White, H G. Loeb Classical Library Volume 57. Cambridge, MA, Harvard University Press; London, William Heinemann Ltd. 1914. Print.
Foley, Helene P. The Homeric Hymn to Demeter: Translation, Commentary, and Interpretative Essays. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1994. Print.
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Demythologization of the Agikuyu Creation Story Essay
Updated: Mar 3rd, 2021
I have read the foundational story that individuals from your tribe ascribe their existence to and I would like to show you that the story might be just a myth especially since I can illustrate that it is based on any solid grounds.
First, though, I would like to briefly summarize the myth as is known to members of your culture. The story starts by explaining that in the beginning there was God, whom your people call Ngai. The myth then goes ahead to spell that Ngai picked out a man, Gikuyu, and allocated him some land and other resources available on earth including animals and fruits. After this allocation, Ngai relocated to the top of Mt Kirinyaga -now known as Mt Kenya(Kenyatta, 1978). As the story goes, one day Ngai decided to take Gikuyu to his residence at the top of Mt Kirinyaga. He (Ngai) led him to the highest point of the mountain and pointed him to a certain point on the land where there were lots of fig trees referred to as Mugumo in your native language. Ngai instructed Gikuyu to go and build a house in that specific region choosing to name the place Mukurwe wa Gathanga, meaning God’s chosen land. Ngai realized that Gikuyu would from time to time require to communicate with Him.
He told him that should he need anything all he had to do was slaughter a goat and roast it in an open fire. Gikuyu then descended the mountain and headed straight to the spot where he was met with a beautiful woman whom he promptly married and named her Mumbi (meaning: creator). The two then started a family and together they had nine daughters. It should be noted here that according to the story, no sons were born into the family. Gikuyu then proceeded to communicate with Ngai via the method they had agreed on earlier and when Ngai summoned him, he went to the mountain to complain that he had many daughters but no men to marry them. Ngai in His mystical way told him to go and slaughter a lamb and a young goat and then take the blood and fat collected from these two animals and pour it at the foot of a giant Mugumo tree which grew near the homestead. A fire was then made under the tree and all the slaughtered meat would be burnt as a sacrifice to Ngai. Once the sacrifice was over, Ngai was to take his daughters and wife home and then come back to the tree where he was to find nine handsome men who were willing to marry his daughters (Killam, 1984). I believe this is the entire story of how the Agikuyu community came to be.
I know members from your tribe have a very strong inclination towards believing the story as it is and because of the strong repercussions that doubters face, they cannot question its truthfulness. However, as an outsider, I believe the story has a lot of misgivings. The first issue I have regards the beginning of the story. Just like the Christian creation story, yours also start with the existence of a supreme deity, in this case, Ngai. Any individual who does not ascribe to this mystical existence of a supreme being would want to question how Ngai came to be. Your story does not either tell of the location he used to reside in before relocating to the mountain top. I have read various versions of the story and have even confirmed with some of my friends from your region and none seemed to explain how Gikuyu came to be either. Was he created by Ngai? If so, what materials were used in this creation process? It is very challenging for a person to go past this point especially since it had already been pointed out that Ngai was on this earth alone. Given your creation story and the Christian version where it is said that God molded man out of some clay and water, the latter would sound more credible even though it has its weaknesses (McFarland, 2009).
We are also told that after allocating Gikuyu a share of the earthly resources, Ngai relocated to the top of Mt. Kirinyaga. Since the physical appearance of Ngai has not been described we are forced to believe that he takes the similar form of a man judging by his conversations and relation with Gikuyu. In his stay at the top of Mt Kirinyaga (Kenya), He must have built himself a house. However, the peak of Mt Kenya is covered in ice and the air above there is too thin to support any existence. Even if Ngai could have survived up there based on His superhuman powers, it is obvious that Gikuyu could not have whenever he went there.
After Ngai had instructed Gikuyu to go and build a homestead, He also advised him to always slaughter a goat whenever he needs to communicate. The issue I have with this part is that even though the usage of smoke to pass across messages has been utilized in various communities, the method was only effective in short distances. Mt Kenya (Kirinyaga) is at least 5000 meters from base to peak (Jackson, 2007). This means that even if the goat that Gikuyu was burning could produce as much smoke as a forest fire, it could only be visible over a certain amount of distance. A single goat on fire can only produce so much smoke.
The meeting between Gikuyu and Mumbi is also very difficult to believe. Even if Ngai had placed her thereafter creating her using the method she had to create Gikuyu, it would have been difficult for Gikuyu to tell that Mumbi was a woman and that he was supposed to marry her. I also don’t see the point of him marrying her if she was the only woman on earth. Marriage, I believe, is a way of isolating an individual from the attention of other people by laying claim to him or her. In this case, Gikuyu cannot be said to have married Mumbi.
When the couples’ nine daughters had grown up, we are told that Gikuyu consulted with Ngai. He climbed up the mountain without any special climbing gear or protective clothing. The sides of Mount Kenya-then, Kirinyaga- are rugged, and even modern-day climbers with their specialized equipment would find it difficult to ascend its slopes to the snow-capped peak. The ritual that Ngai instructed to be performed for Him to solve Gikuyu’s issue is also not justifiable. It almost appears like Ngai was just having fun watching Gikuyu and his family polish a tree with blood and animal fat. In fact, after the ritual, they all left, and then the man (Gikuyu) had to come back to collect the men for his daughters. The myth insists that the men were willing to marry Gikuyu’s daughters. It is difficult to think that the men had any other option but to marry the girls. After all, it was their sole purpose on this earth, and we are left wondering what would have happened had they refused to do so.
Finally, the story in all its various versions always ends with the part where Gikuyu’s daughters found themselves husbands and began multiplying the earth. We do not get to know whether Ngai relocated or is still living at the peak of the mountain. If so, then individuals who have climbed to the peak must have met Him or seen signs of His existence there. These individuals include your country’s own Kisoi Munyao in 1963 when you received independence (Davidson, 1996).
With all these shortcomings, Mr. Kamau, it is amazing that the members of your tribe have taken this as a representation of the whole truth regarding their origin. Please note that I am not urging you to abandon your traditional religious beliefs. I am simply trying to show you that as passionate as you may be about culture, there are some basic questions you have to ask yourself about the things you are told.
Davidson, J. (1996). Voices from Mutira: change in the lives of rural Gikuyo women, 1910-1995. Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers.
Jackson, J. (2007). Trekking Atlas of the World. Australia: New Holland Publishers.
Kenyatta, J. (1978). Facing Mount Kenya: the tribal life of the Gikuyu. Michigan: University of Michigan.
Killam, G. (1984). The Writing of East and Central Africa. Nairobi: East African Publishers.
McFarland, I. (2009). Creation and Humanity: The Sources of Christian Theology. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press.
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Works and Days and Theogony: Zeus Essay
Updated: Feb 25th, 2021
It is worth noting that the reading “Works and Days and Theogony” is a comprehensive genealogy of the gods and it considers the origin of the world in a systematic way. Initially, the world started with the existing Chaos, Earth, and Eros. They produced the essential parts of the universe. After that, the genealogy began to develop, and a struggle for the division of power among the godly generations started. The purpose of this paper is to analyze the reasons why Zeus was able to remain in charge of the gods and what the crucial difference between Zeus and the other gods was.
Zeus, Uranus, Cronus
It is important to emphasize that the main reason why Zeus was able to remain in charge of the gods was his true nature and the existence of moral guidelines that motivated his decisions. Uranus was the son of Chaos and Earth, together with his wife they gave birth to the second generation whom Uranus hated and returned them to the bosom of Gaia (Hesiod 74). Their son Cronus, together with his mother, overthrew his father and became the lord of the universe.
In his turn, Cronus was also afraid to lose the power and devoured all his children to sustain all the authority in his hands solely. Thus, Cronus was also guided by guile and hatred. Zeus was Cronus’s youngest son who was saved by his mother through deception. When Zeus grew up, he was not cunning by his nature and defeated Cronus using his force. The father was plunged into Tartaros. Metis, the wife of Zeus, helped him to bring back the children that were swallowed by Cronus (Hesiod 75). Zeus promised to ensure fair distribution of power to attain the gods’ loyalty. Thus, they divided the father’s power among themselves (Poseidon became the lord of the water element, Hades – of the underworld), and Zeus became the lord of the entire world.
When Zeus received power over the world, the era of catastrophes ended with his supremacy. He defeated all monsters and titans and established order in the world (Cosmos). The most important traits that characterized Zeus were wisdom and justice. He became the guardian of justice, unlike Cronus and Uranus, who were driven by the fear of losing their power. In addition, Zeus was able to bring the law into the world and became the principle of life.
Through wisdom, thoughtfulness, and loyalty to his commitments, Zeus was able to maintain order in the world and the appreciation of fellow gods (Hesiod 85). However, he had certain similarities with Cronus and Uranus in the treatment of children. When Zeus was told that Metis would give life to the child who would take the power of Zeus, he swallowed Metis (Hesiod 86). Nevertheless, Zeus himself gave birth to the child (Athena), and Metis remained in his head giving Zeus advice to drive his decision-making.
Thus, it can be concluded that despite the existing similarities between Zeus, Cronus, and Uranus, the lord of the world was very different from them. He did not direct his decisions by guile but used force that he had as well as wisdom. He did not intend to concentrate all the power in his hands and received it by casting lots with the fellow gods and winning their loyalty. After Zeus had come to power, the epoch of terror ceased, and the order and justice were introduced. For these reasons, he was able to remain in charge of the gods although he had faced a number of hurdles on this way.
Hesiod. Works and Days and Theogony. Translated by Stanley Lombardo and Robert Lamberton, Hackett Publishing Company, 1993.
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People Who Remind Me of Greek Gods Essay
Updated: Feb 22nd, 2021
The ancient Greeks had communal tales called myths. Myths focused on the life of deities, exceptional humans, adventures, and natural occurrences. These fascinating tales gave details about natural occurrences and events that could not be elucidated by science. The tales have been passed down from regeneration to generation for almost thousands of years. In these myths, several Greek gods, goddesses, and their roles have been described. All Greek deities are portrayed as perfect beings with the ability to perform miraculous acts. Notably, these gods and goddesses had unique behaviors and traits that human beings desire. For instance, Artemis the daughter of Zeus and Leto is one of the Greek goddesses that possessed amazing traits, personality, and behaviors (Lefkowitz, 2003). In the myths, she is described as the goddess of virginity, the moon, the hunter, childbirth, and caretaker of the natural environment. His brother Apollo became renowned for his exceptional traits. He was obsessed with arts and music as depicted in most paintings and sculptures. This article focuses on two people whose traits remind me of Artemis and Apollo.
Apollo is a renowned Greek god who is portrayed in many sculptures with a muscular body and long hair. In myths, he is described as the deity of the sun, music, prophecies, and a healer. His parents were Zeus and Leto (Lefkowitz, 2003). Like the other gods, Apollo possessed supernatural powers that enabled him to command plagues and drive the sun across the sky using his four horses. There are some unique traits exhibited by Apollo that can be identified in some human beings.
Some of the personality traits exhibited by my favorite celebrity Chris Brown reminds me of Apollo’s personality. I have known Chris Brown for about a decade. Brown is a singer, artist, and actor who has won many awards. The art industry has earned him a lot of money from the million sales of his music records and paintings. I have realized that some of the Browns’ traits resemble that of Apollo. From his childhood, Brown has been obsessed with arts. It is alleged that Brown has painted a number of pictures and graffiti since he was 15 years old. Some of these arts have been donated for charity. This obsession with the arts can be related to Apollo’s fascination with the arts. Apollo has been depicted in numerous sculptures and paintings. In some books, he has been referred to as a god of arts.
Apart from art skills, Brown has a great passion for music. His music is not only entertaining but also full of fun. Brown commands substantial knowledge in many musical instruments. He plays guitar, drum set, and piano, as he is talented in music. Brown is a great choreographer who can dance while singing. He has great stage performances that allow him to entertain thousands of fans worldwide. Currently, he is considered among the most influential global celebrities. Based on the above illustrations, it is apparent that Brown shares some attributes with Apollo. In history books, Apollo is depicted as the god of music. At certain incidence, he is depicted in a music contest with Marsyas. The winner of the contest had the right to do anything to the loser. When Marsyas lost, he was murdered and dangled on a tree by Apollo (Lefkowitz, 2003).
Another attribute shared by brown and Apollo is their obsession with women. Brown has had several love scandals with famous women. Similarly, Apollo’s love for women has been documented in various Greek mythology books. In some instances, the god is illustrated engaging in an affair with King Troy’s wife. Some books assert that the god had an affair with a princess by the name of Cassandra who was the daughter of King Priam (Lefkowitz, 2003). With respect to the love for women, the two characters share similar attributes.
If I inform Brown about his similarity with Apollo, I would expect him to agree with some of my observations because as a celebrity he loves a lot of attention. However, he would not concur with my observation about his love for women. His similarities with Apollo would increase his popularity among his fans.
The life of Artemis as portrayed in the Greek myths has similar attributes to the life of a musician Robyn Rihanna. Rihanna’s beauty is remarkable. She is considered to be among the best beautiful global women. Her beauty has earned her millions of global fans. To some extent, the celebrity has some of the character traits, which the Artemis possessed. Artemis had extraordinary powers that allowed her to command plaques (Napoli & Balit, 2011).
Artemis’s love for animals was undisputed. To date, animal activists are inspired by her acts. She used to rescue preyed animals in the same manner environmentalists work to rescue endangered animals. Just like Artemis, Rihannas’ love for exotic animals has attracted international attention. A few months ago, she posted images of herself holding an endangered primate. Similarly, on her trip to South Africa, she posted several pictures of herself standing beside giraffes and orphaned lions. Based on the above traits, it is apparent that Rihanna shares some attributes with Artemis in regards to their love for wild animals.
Another important trait I have noted in Rihanna is that she is overprotective. She does not like seeing her boyfriends in the company of other women. Even after breaking up with her former boyfriend, she never wanted to lose him. When Chris Brown beat her, she still loved him as seen when she initiated the reunion. She has tried severally not to talk about their broken relationship. It is apparent that she is always willing to forgive him. These attributes remind me of the possessive traits of the Artemis. She was overprotective of her holy animals rather than of humans. She could severely punish those who interfered with these animals. At some point in time we encounter, Agamemnon being punished for the killing of the sacred stag. He could not sail since Artemis caused a calmness to prevail (Lefkowitz, 2003).
Similarly, in many stories, Artemis is depicted walking alone through the forest hunting and caring for the animals she cherished. Just like Artemis, Rihanna likes taking nature walks along the beaches and animal park paths. Equally, some of her videos have a naturalistic setup. Whenever, I come across Rihanna’s pictures illustrated above, they remind me of Artemis behaviors. If I was to tell her of the many resembling traits they share with the Greek goddess Artemis, she may not believe them because they are mere coincidence. Alternatively, she might be amazed because of Artemis popularity and position in Greek history. I believe that Rihanna’s reaction would be inconsistent with the personality of Artemis.
Lefkowitz, M. R. (2003). Greek gods, human lives: what we can learn from myths. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Napoli, D. J., & Balit, C. (2011). Treasury of Greek mythology: classic stories of gods, goddesses, heroes & monsters. Washington: National Geographic Society.
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The Mythic Elements Usage Essay
Updated: Jan 11th, 2021
One day, Iris, the goddess of the rainbow, quarreled with the Sky. She told the Sky that it was unfair that she appeared so rarely. Iris blamed the Sky for the fine weather and the absence of rains for a long time as she was allowed to appear only after the rain. She told me that she was so happy when people saw her regularly and admired her beauty. The Sky replied to her that he would not change this and that people did not need the rainbow. The Sky told her that people needed only the sun and the rains because they made their lands fruitful. However, Iris was not persuaded by this argument.
She told the Sky, “If only the food is the source of people’s well-being, people live the empty lives because, although they are fat, they are not happy.”
“You do not understand. They are already happy because the sun shines every day”, The Sky replied.
“People love me. They are just thankful for the sun but I doubt whether this source of happiness which is given to them almost every day is valued more than the one which they see only a few times. They miss me, I am sure”, Iris added with regret.
“Think what you want but I will not give the rain as you ask anyway”, The Sky persisted.
Iris was angry. She missed people too. She had not seen them for months and decided to undertake anything to appear. She thought that when she appeared, people would be so happy to see her that she would persuade the Sky in her importance.
One day, when the sun had already appeared in the sky, Iris appeared over the hills. She tried so hard to be noticed by every citizen of the city that when they had seen her, they had been charmed by the most beautiful rainbow they ever seen in their lives. The Sky was angry about her action. The Sky turned dark and the weather became awful. People were frightened of the disaster. Immediately, they turned back to their homes, hiding their children, household staff, and cattle. Children began crying.
The Sky laughed at Iris. She became indignant.
“Do you still believe that you are more important than the sun?”, The Sky asked her.
“After your actions and the fear which people felt, I became even surer that they value me more. I will be a sparkling memory in their minds”, Iris replied.
Seeing her impertinence, the Sky decided to punish her.
“You will never appear again! I will not send the rain anymore!”, The Sky said.
Iris cried. Her last hope to persuade the Sky disappeared.
The sun shined every day. People had not seen the rain for months. The drought had led to famine because the fruitful lands turned to deserts. The Sky had seen that and started to send the rains every day. The sun disappeared and it was raining steadily. The floods destroyed the cattle-pens and devastated the fields completely. People had never suffered so much before. Many left the city in search of fruitful lands. Many lost their homes because of the severe rains and the wind. Everyone recalled the good days when the sun and the rain replaced each other allowing them to survive. The panic began in the city.
The Sky observed their troubles. He started to realize that if all people died, no one would be thankful for the sun and the rain, and no one would admire them. Eventually, he allowed the sun shining. The steady rains stopped. However, the Sky knew that if he did not send the rain, the disaster would repeat. That is why, after a week of the fine weather, it was started to rain. This way Iris realized that she allowed appearing. It was her turn now.
When people’s sufferings stopped, they were so happy to see her. She became the sign of the recovery of their land and the well-being. Iris was bright and colorful. She symbolized happiness itself. People began to believe that the rainbow was the sign of new life and prosperity. This was due to the fact it appeared only if the sunny and the rainy weather replaced each other from time to time, and people could grow the crops and tend the herds.
“The sufferings of people made me change my decision,” the Sky said to Iris.
“Now they are happy, and I am happy too,” Iris replied.
In that way, the Sky realized that the sun, the rain, and the rainbow were all important to people’s well-being. The first gave them the light and the warm, the second prevented the drought and made the fields fruitful, and the last one gave them a sign that their land prospered. Because it was important for people that the sun and the rain replaced each other, it was logical that the rainbow was equally important.
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