End of a Line: How Zeus is the Logic Conclusion to the Succession Myth
In Hesiod’s Theogony, there is a chronology presented in which there are many generations holding the position of “king of the universe”. Ouranos, his son Kronos, and his son Zeus are all at one time the holder of the coveted position to rule over all things. Ouranos and Kronos both met an untimely end at the hand of their sons, so why did Zeus not share the same fate? In The Theogony, there is a passage which shows why Zeus is the being in his line that remains the ruler. Lines 485 to 506 within The Theogony show how Zeus was favoured by Gaia, he was both the first and last born, and how he had the wisdom and guidance to free the cyclopses from their bondage, and that these events were what made Zeus the logical conclusion to the succession myth.
In the passage, it can be seen that Gaia has taken notice and favour of Zeus. She took him from his mother Rhea and guided him as he grew to trick his father.
Swiftly then the strength and noble limbs of the future lord grew; at the end of a year, tricked by the clever advice of Earth, great crooked-minded Cronus threw up his children. Zeus grew over the period of a year, and then returned to save his brothers and sisters, the other Olympians, from remaining in their father’s stomach, and over that year he was taken care of by Gaia, who acted as his guiding figure through that time.
His plan to trick and overtake his father was suggested by Gaia, the Earth, just as the plan Cronus had enacted in the past was Gaia’s as well. She helps who she favours and who she thinks is worthy of ruling the universe, using her prophetic timé to assist. The passage states that Cronus was “tricked by the clever advice of Earth”, and later states that Cronus is “defeated by the craft and force of his own son”, meaning that a combination of the necessary help of Gaia and the worthy strength of Zeus were combined to defeat Cronus.
Gaia’s will is the will of the Earth, as she is the Earth. In later passages of the same text, it is noted that the gods willed Zeus to rule over them forever by Gaia’s advice, which further strengthens her actions in this passage, as it is shown she has willed all along for Zeus to be the ruler of the universe and not be overtaken by a son, much like his precessors in the succession myth.
Within the succession myth, and in Greek culture and myth itself, the position of the first and last born sons are important. They are very powerful positions to hold within the birth order in a family. Kronos was the last born, and the only one of his Titan siblings willing to castrate his father and become the next ruler. Zeus is especially significant in this manner because he is both first and last born.
Zeus is the last-born from his mother, and the one that she hides away and replaces with a rock for Kronos to eat instead, “Rhea wrapped a huge stone in a baby’s robe, and fed it to Sky’s wide-ruling son, lord of the earlier gods”. He is also technically the first-born in the sense that the rock that his father ate instead of him was vomited from Cronus’ “womb” first before any of his siblings were regurgitated. “First he vomited up the stone he swallowed last”. Zeus holds a very important position among the Olympians because he is both born last from his mother and first from his father. He is able to take the importance of both of those roles himself.
Zeus’ position among his siblings is unique inside mythology, especially within the succession myth itself. While Cronus was the last born, and that is part of why he is the one to take over the throne, Zeus is also the firstborn, so he is able to take the throne and keep the throne after, because of that added power.
Zeus, in this passage, also displays a wisdom that his father and grandfather didn’t display with the freeing of his uncles; the cyclopes. The cyclopes were the children of Ouranos and Gaia after the Titans, and being disgusted by them, Ouranos forced them back into Gaia’s womb, which is the event that sparked the succession myth. Kronos after defeating his father did nothing to free or help his cyclops brothers and instead left them trapped. Zeus, on the other hand, had the wisdom to free them, which was a vital task when looking at the future.
The cyclopses were the craftsmen who made and gifted Zeus his lightning bolt, one of his most recognizable symbols and an instrument to his time of weather. “They did not forget gratitude for his help, / and gave him thunder and firey lightning-bolt / and lightning, which vast Earth earlier had hidden”. Without them being freed, Zeus may never have gotten this instrumental symbol that many people know him by, and by which he displays the lightning of his timai.
Zeus’ freeing of the cyclopses was also instrumental in his defeat of the Titans in the Titan o Machi as mentioned later in the Theogony. Without the help of the cyclopses, and the hundred handed ones whom Zeus also freed, the gods would not have succeeded in defeating their foes.
By freeing those that the other kings either imprisoned or were not forethinking enough to free, Zeus was able to win a major battle and have allies that gave him resources and weapons, including his lightning bolt.
When examining the passage from lines 485 to 506 in Hesiod’s Theogony, it can be seen that Zeus is the only logical conclusion to the succession myth. In explaining the details of Zeus’ upbringing, having him favoured by Gaia, as well as his important position of first and last born, and giving an example of his great wisdom and foresight as a leader, it is shown that he is the rightful leader among the gods, and thus the succession myth should, and does, end with him. He avoided the fate that his predecessors had succumbed to, and stayed forever the ruler of the universe.
The View of Creation of World, Life and Humans Is Driven by Myths
The eternal struggle between optimism and pessimism is never more apparent than in the comparison of the creation myths of the Yoruba and the Babylonians, The Creation of the Universe and Ife and The Enuma Elish respectively. Humanity springs forth in much the same manner in each story: starting with a world of water and the determination of a single god. Though the structure of both myths is relatively similar, a difference in tone is immediately distinguishable. By studying the motivations of the creator gods, the types of human beings created, and the relationship between the gods and their people, we can see that the societies of Babylon and Yoruba differ more than they resemble each other in regards to culture and world view.
The concept of servitude itself is apparent in both myths, but takes drastically different embodiments in each. The gods of the Enuma Elish, the highest authorities of Babylonian culture, created human beings to serve. Marduk, the great hero, says, “I will create a savage and call him ‘man.’ His job will be to serve the gods so they can rest at ease” (10). This ideal stands as an inevitability in the span of a life, much as death is an unavoidable reality. To believe that death is the only reward for an entire life spent toiling for the sake of superior beings would break the spirit of even the strongest; however, the humans were created to be nothing more than the gods’ slaves. This arrangement reveals a dark sense of pessimism looming over Babylonian culture as well as a low regard for Babylonians themselves as people. In The Creation of the Universe and Ife, Obatala, looking down on an empty earth, dreamt of more than ocean below the heaven in which he resided. He said, “The world below needs something of interest! Everything is water soaked, and not one living thing enlivens the area!” (510). He wanted to create humans because he wanted to make the world a better, livelier place, and in a way the gods serve the people by hearing their prayers and rescuing them from destruction. Obatala thus created humanity with the virtues of creativity and exuberance in mind. This motivation drastically differs from that of the Babylonian gods, who did not create humans for anything more than their ability to do the labor the gods themselves did not want to complete.
The belief that a human’s goal is to serve places a larger emphasis on physicality and strength. This emphasis, consequently, shifts art and spirituality to relatively low priority with regard to everyday life. Babylonians endeavored to be warriors, and this ingrained fighting spirit created strife within themselves. Their myth is a reflection of their gloomy and adversarial lifestyle as much as the lifestyle is the result of a deep-seeded sorrow, which itself springs from the knowledge of their own inferiority. Even the humans created by Obatala are acknowledged as deformed and imperfect as a result of their unfortunately timed creation: “He did not realize it, but the wine made him drunk. Obatala returned to his task of making clay figures, but his fingers were clumsy now. The figures he created were no longer perfect” (512). These people have every reason to suffer from their inferiority, and yet their gods do not condemn them. The drunken mishaps that lead each human to be molded inconsistently from the earthen clay are the roots of their strong connection to their gods. Rather than demanding to be served by the lesser creatures, as did the Babylonian pantheon, the gods of Yoruba look upon the humans as objects of sympathy, as in need of their support. The very material from which the humans were created in each myth demonstrates this division. Obatala’s humans were carved from the clay of the earth, which presents a pleasant connection to nature, vitality, and the gods themselves. The Babylonians were created from the blood of a slain enemy: “Ea killed Kingu, severed his blood vessels, and fashioned the first human beings out of Kingu’s blood” (11). In their own eyes as well as in the eyes of their gods, humans were forever tainted by the evil of the enemies.
As is the case for most ancient people in the imagining of their deities, the gods of the Babylonians and the Yoruba are a reflection of humanity. While the gods in The Creation of the Universe and Ife have many traits that reflect the best of humanity, the Babylonian gods seem to have been imagined from a darker perspective. Owing the ultimate debt to the gods in return for the right of their existence, the people have no choice but to worship and fear the gods with every part of their being. This approach provides a dramatic contrast to the devoted attitude the people have toward their gods in The Creation of the Universe and Ife in return for the gods’ unconditional love and protection. The obvious inferiority of humans is not used as a weapon against them by the gods that created them. Because humanity’s deformities and imperfections were due to a god’s admittedly careless mistake, he vows to be a protector of humans instead of their master: “‘I will devote myself to protecting all the people who have suffered from my drunkenness’ And Obatala became the protector of all those who are born deformed” (512). To the audience of this myth, a god who gets drunk and makes mistakes is an imperfect one. This ideology allows people to have a closer connection to their gods because those same gods can be viewed as flawed. Unlike those of other cultures, whose gods are all-powerful and superior in every way, these gods accept their faults and love even the creatures they make in error. The bond between man and creator is thus warmer and stronger. To humans, who vary in just about every way conceivable, this fact of life is a relief, as the pressure to live up to an impossible standard disappears. After the humans are created, the greatest god orders the gods on earth to hear the prayers of the humans and serve them. and prove themselves to be compassionate gods, a relative rarity in mythology. These relationships reveal the very foundation of the cultures’ respective fundamental world views. Unlike the Yoruba, the Babylonians saw a harsh world, and so naturally the creators of that world were thought to be harsh as well. Understanding, acceptance, and love stand at the core of The Creation of the Universe and Ife, proving that the Yoruba held these values in the highest regard, rather than prioritizing the debt and work that permeated every aspect of Babylonian culture.
Ultimately, the distinction between the creation of humanity in The Creation of the Universe and Ife and The Enuma Elish is one of outlook. To the Babylonians, life is struggle, from the very moment humans were raised from a pool of blood and enslaved. Never condemned nor abandoned by their gods, the Yoruba are left with a sense of community and hope. Positioned opposite to one another, these myths prove to be the sources as well as the products of each society’s view of the world, whether it be violent servitude or prosperity.
Analyzing Fairy Tales and Myths: Little Red Riding Hood, Into the Woods, and Libation Bearers
According to Mircea Eliade, fairy tales and mythological stories are “models for human behavior [that,] by that very fact, give meaning and value to life (Bettelheim 35). This lends to the idea that fairy tales and myths, from the beginning, have been used as examples for people to follow and learn from. Stories from ancient Greek tragedies such as Libation Bearers, to classic fairy tales like Little Red Riding Hood, to even modern takes on fairy tales like Into The Woods, all have a message to tell, a fable to teach. This paper will explore the messages that various fairy tales and myths convey, and will explain how these messages change depending on time and place, as well as how they are parts of an agenda, using characterization, quotes, and the outcome of characters.
Myths and fairy tales “[embody] the cumulative experience of a society as men wished to recall past wisdom for themselves and transmit it to future generations” (Bettelheim 26). Over time, this cumulative experience and past wisdom was perverted, or used to perpetuate ideas or send messages that the storyteller wanted to get across. The first message that is being told is that within Aeschylus’ Libation Bearers. The two children of Agamemnon, Orestes and Electra, carry out revenge for their father’s murder by their mother, in a way that demonstrates the Greek idea of justice, that is, in it’s simplest terms, helping your friends and harming your enemies. In this case, their mother, Clytemnestra, who wronged their family in many ways, deserves justice for her actions, particularly killing Agamemnon. While at it’s core, the main theme of the play and the others in its’ trilogy is justice and the enactment of it, there is a political and social context that needs to be addressed to get a full understanding of the play’s meaning. The play was written in Athens, a democratic city-state. The main antagonist of the play, Clytemnestra, is ruling over Argos tyrannically. This already presents the fact that the Athenian playwright Aeschylus, as well as his predominantly Athenian male audience, see tyrants as an enemy.
It goes beyond that, however. Socially, the Greeks “linked tyrants with women”, due to the fact that tyrants are surrounded by protection and walls, and therefore lose their freedom of travel and movement, as well as the fact that a tyrant, due to his or her power, is likely to over-indulge in pleasures and fashion (Foley xviii). These characteristics are linked to women because, in Athens, leaving the household as a woman was seen as a social faux pa, and women stereotypically enjoyed fashion and over-indulgence, and were considered undisciplined, another characteristic stereotypical of only women and barbarians. By making the main antagonist a female tyrant, “Aeschylus exploits these parallel cultural assumptions about women and tyranny” (Foley xix).
With that background information in mind, it is possible to see certain messages that the play conveys. For example, Electra, supposedly the only surviving child of Agamemnon in Argos at the beginning of the play, begins the play by making offerings to her father’s grave and praying to the gods for vengeance to be wrought upon her mother. Immediately after her offering and prayer, she finds evidence of Orestes presence, and reacts with extreme joy when he reveals himself by saying “[y]ou are the closest and dearest to your father’s House. How I wept for you, the seed of hope, salvation!” (Lib. 235-6). Electra’s extreme excitement when seeing Orestes, paired with her extreme sorrow for the loss of her father and her hatred of her mother, paints her as a dutiful daughter. She is carrying out offerings to her father’s grave, not struggling or leaving her home, and when the time comes, Orestes begins to lead the plan for avenging their father. In doing so, Orestes, in the hero role, pushes Electra to the side and has her follow him while he deals with the situation at hand. Bettelheim states that the “hero is presented to the listener as a figure that he ought to emulate in his own life, as far as possible” (Bettelheim 26). With all of this information, the “model” presented here is that Electra, by carrying out her social obligations of paying tribute to her father and being submissive towards Orestes is being a dutiful, just daughter, while Orestes presents a chauvinist message that the man has to lead, particularly in situations that require strength or present difficulties.
Clytemnestra is also painted as unjust, despite killing Agamemnon due to the unjust things he had also done, such as kill their daughter as a way to end a war, and for having a concubine despite Clytemnestra being a dutiful wife up until the moment where she kills him. The plot as a whole effectively conveys the idea that women should be submissive and not rule, and that men should take action, all under the pretense of justice. This message is in line with social beliefs that were common at the time in Athens, strengthening the patriarchal grasp on Athens. This can lead one to believe that mythological pieces, such as the tales of Odysseus and Agamemnon or any other relevant mythological hero have a message to dissuade one from acting a certain way.
Into The Woods also presents many messages about marriage, growing up, and working together. An important distinction to note about myths as opposed to fairy tales is that the ending “[of] myths is always tragic, while always happy in fairy tales” (Bettelheim 37). Considering the movie consists of various adaptations of fairy tales and stories put together into one movie, the amount of lessons learned by the characters, and by extension, the amount of lessons portrayed to the audience, are substantial. Throughout the movie, various characters are made to enter the woods for different reasons and come out stronger, wiser, or more prepared for the real world in some way. For example, The Baker and his wife realize that they have to work together to fulfill the terms of their contract with the witch, improving their marriage.
This serves as a contrast to the beginning where they had a “divide and conquer” approach to getting the objects the witch needed. However, once the time came that they actually had a baby, they started to fall back into old habits, and the Wife, upon getting separated by the husband again, cheats on him and subsequently dies. This is a fairy tale example of how marriages can end up in a non-fantastical situation. They began to work together and developed a stronger relationship for it, they were enamored with the idea of having a child but once the child came, they remarked that they did not have any room in their home and seemed very unprepared for it, and the difficulties the child provided, coupled with the stress of external forces (in this case, the giant), made her resort to escaping from her husband and child and having an affair with a handsome prince to get away from it all. This act of infidelity leads to her death, implying she was being punished for her actions, as befitting for fairy tales, which, reinforces the idea that “virtue is rewarded everywhere, and vice is always punished”.
The Baker represents the virtuous hero in this story. After the death of his wife, the Baker learns to deal with his problems head on after the appearance of the ghost of his father, who is telling The Baker the immense regret he felt for running away from his troubles, and with the assistance of the other characters, confronted his challenge, instead of abandoning them for a different life where he would have regretted his past decision. This realization echoes the original purpose of these tales as said earlier in the paper, that is, to embody experience and wisdom and pass it on to future generations. The father, who had made mistakes and learned from it, helped The Baker realize from beyond the grave that he cannot do the same, as he will spend the remainder of his life miserable and filled with regret. When he returns, he is filled with purpose, determination, and is ultimately stronger than he was before. As Bettelheim puts it, “[t]he fairy tale is future-oriented and guides the [audience]” (Bettelheim 11). The Baker in this story, and by extension, the hero of other stories, acts as someone to emulate. In experiencing the issues firsthand, The Baker changed as a person, and the audience now has a role model, an example to follow, without having to experience it themselves. In seeing someone else experience this and seeing the outcome, the audience learns, even subconsciously, to emulate or learn from that situation.
The story of the Witch and Rapunzel also teaches a lesson about the attachment between a mother and her daughter. The Witch has kept Rapunzel, now an adult woman, trapped in her tower for her entire life. The Witch keeps her in the tower for the sole purpose of keeping her safe, as she believes the world is dangerous and dark, but that in the tower she can be away from the harsh realities of the outside world. This seems to be a reflection of the original reasoning behind many fairy tales, as the Witch is the exact kind of person who probably told fairy tales that were frightening to keep Rapunzel in her home, not wanting to escape until she realizes there is more to the outside world than the danger that The Witch described.
Into The Woods shows its agenda through the outcomes of its various characters. The Baker’s story, mostly about marriage, family cohesion, and child raising, conveys the message that one has to be willing to work together with his or her family, which, in this case, turns out to be various other fairy tale characters as well as his true family, and that he must face his problems head on and without fear, and the children in the story, after facing the challenges of the woods, become more capable and courageous. Rapunzel strikes out and finds the someone she loves in the woods, despite being put in an incredibly dangerous situation for it. This can be seen as an inversion of the normal depiction of these fairy tales, particularly the classical version of Little Red Riding Hood, where the story is used to frighten children into behaving so they do not get themselves into a dangerous situation, such as getting lost in the woods or getting attacked by the wildlife.
Little Red Riding Hood is an example of a fairy tale that has been reused time and time again for the purpose of discouraging certain kinds of behavior. Charles Perrault’s version, in particular, highlights the one moral very heavy handedly in saying “ Children…should never talk to strangers, for if they should do so, they may well provide dinner for a wolf. I say “wolf,” but there are various kinds of wolves. There are also those who are charming, quiet, polite, unassuming, complacent, and sweet, who pursue young women at home and in the streets. And unfortunately, it is these gentle wolves who are the most dangerous ones of all.” (Lang 53). This particular version shows the most blatant use of fairy tales as a way to encourage a lesson to be learned by children. However, there are various critiques of this version of Little Red Riding Hood. As stated before, virtue is rewarded and vice is punished, and Little Red Riding Hood, in this depiction, was stated to be “entertaining herself by gathering nuts, running after butterflies, and gathering bouquets of little flowers” (Lang 51). Bettelheim believes that this behavior “merited punishment for her arranging things so that the wolf can do away with the mother figure”, helping to prove that the fairy tale’s point is still to punish her for having done something wrong or foolish (Tartar 38). Jack Zipes believes the same, stating that the eponymous character is shown to be “‘pretty, spoiled, gullible, and helpless’ and is seen to collaborate in her own rape” (Tartar 38).
This shows that Little Red Riding Hood is, above all else, meant to be a cautionary tale. As her behavior in most depictions is seen to be airheaded, easily fooled, and disobedient towards her mother, it makes sense that she is taken advantage of by the Wolf, a predator figure meant to represent those who would use such weaknesses to get what they want. The story shows that, if she were to listen to the mother and take the quickest, shortest path to her grandmother’s house, while ignoring strangers and distractions, she would get there safely and no harm would come to her or her family. This reinforces a behavior of caution, fear, and discipline in children when concerning matters of the outside world.
In conclusion, it can be seen that all fairy tales and myths, in one way shape or form, have an agenda to fill. The Sometimes this agenda is to keep the status quo, and inspire people to act in a way dictated by society, such as in the case of Libation Bearers, and other times it is used to help children grow up and succeed, such as in the case of Into The Woods or Libation Bearers.
Representation of the Myth of Icarus and Daedalus in Literature and Painting
W. H. Auden’s poem, ”Musée de Beaux Arts” centers around human suffering by the speaker observing the painting. Auden utilizes this work of art to show how egocentric people on the world had become. The painting “Landscape with the Fall of the Icarus” was painted by a Renaissance painter in which it depicted the underlying theme of the world’s ignorance. In the painting “Landscape with the Fall of the Icarus” by Bruegel, Icarus is portrayed as an innocent victim of social ignorance. The poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden serves as a reason as to why no one saved Icarus. In contrast, Ovid’s myth shows how Icarus’ over ambitious and ignorant character leads to his downfall.
The painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Peter Bruegel, which refuted the myth of Icarus and Daedalus, relates a situation about Daedalus and Icarus. In his painting, he portrays the scene when Icarus fell into the sea. Bruegel depicted rural people in real-life settings; many of his works show peasants farming, going to market, or celebrating the harvest. The simplicity of his painting has deeper meanings. He showed the painting in a very different way as compared to the Greek myth. In the painting, many people are continuing on with their life for instance the farmer doing his job in the field, the person who is busy in different activity, the man gazing into the sunset, and many ships in the water. Everything is perfect in the painting, but there is a person who he showed drowning in the sea, which is believed to be Icarus. The painting can be interpreted in two ways. One way is that the people were so blinded by their own successes and enjoyable life that they could not see Icarus drowning.
Another interpretation is that the people were so caught up in their own struggles in life that they choose not to care for others, like how the people in the painting did not save Icarus. It can be added that the people are blinded by ignorance of others’ problems. This can be seen in the painting by observing how all the people were not really facing the direction of Icarus. Instead, most of them were carrying on with their lives. The man in the bottom right corner was looking at the water, but he still did not try to save Icarus. Overall, the painting depicted that humans had provincial views and therefore did not see the other people that needed help.
The poem “Musée des Beaux Arts” by W. H. Auden was about the paintings in the Museum of Fine Arts and described many themes. It was about society’s differences and human sufferings. Auden later specifies the painting “Landscape with the Fall of Icarus” by Peter Bruegel in his poem and explains why the people in Bruegel’s painting did not save Icarus in the water. The writer represented a few circumstances in which pain goes unnoticed and disregarded. It seemed like enduring pain had turned into a consistent and typical part of life that was described as someone “eating or opening a window or just walking dully along. ” It also says how individuals eat and drink, dogs keep on living their lives, and people keep on feeling indifferent towards someone else’s tragedies, such as death. The author implies that people’s daily lives included having constant weight on their shoulders. In the meantime, if everybody was experiencing a type of pain or struggle of their own, it evokes the question of whether or not they should help with resolving other’s pain. Auden explains that there is an absence of empathy in society; the world is becoming impassive and self-centered. Nowadays, a person’s pain, tragedies, and sufferings are a part of life, but life needs to go on. This theme can be seen in the quote “children who did not especially want it to happen. ” It explained how the oldest child in the family would be jealous of a younger born child because they would require more of the parents’ time and attention. It further went on to say how despite all these events that happened, life will still have to go on. In the poem it said, “Where the dogs go on with their doggy life, ” which portrays how the people have to move on even if something bothered someone, just like how the children had to accept the fact that younger siblings required a great deal of attention.
The analysis of the Bruegel’s painting enhanced the poem’s purpose. Not only that but is also provided a reason as to why the people in the painting did not save Icarus. Auden mentioned in his poem how “the ploughman may have heard the splash, the forsaken cry, but for him it was not an important failure. ” He explained how the man could have heard the splash but chose not to save Icarus because he had his own problems. Those problems were a more “important failure” than Icarus’ drowning therefore his drowning was not worth the ploughman’s attention. The exaggeration of someone putting their problems before someone else’s life and death situation showed how careless people were. Auden ended his poem by once again mentioning how life must go on. He said, “the expensive delicate ship…had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on. ” This was, again, an exaggeration of how even objects moved on with their job. His depiction indicated that he understood that while people endure pain, the everyday schedule of life goes ahead as undisturbed.
The myth of Daedalus and Icarus by Ovid started in Athens. Daedalus was the best painter, stone carver, and thinker of Athens. His method for escaping from Crete was to use wings made out of wax to fly out. Daedalus made one for himself and one for his son. Daedalus advised Icarus to not going down to the ocean waves or ascending to the sun and stay nearby. However, the youthful Icarus disobeyed his father. Pleased with the magnificence and shining of the sun, he ascended higher than Daedalus advised him. The sunlight dissolved the wax and the broke down wings could not hold Icarus. He fell from the sky to the ocean, plummeting towards his death. Daedalus felt pure sadness towards his son’s death, regardless of Icarus’ decision to disobey. Icarus had a “beaming face kept on capturing the feathers which the moving air has moved, with his thumb now kept softening the yellow wax and with his play he kept interrupting the marvelous work of his father. ” This shows how Icarus had a smile on his face while he was ruining his father’s work and it portrays Icarus’ character as an overly eager, as he was, child. Daedalus worked hard to provide a mean of escape for him and his son, but Icarus decided to interrupt it. To continue this thought, Icarus’ eagerness can be described by the quote “attracted by a desire for the sky he took his path higher. ” He was overwhelmed with the fantasy of flight and got overconfident with the feeling of his power. However, Icarus’ over ambitious character not only leads to his death, but also broke his father’s heart. The quote “but the unlucky father, no longer a father” shows how Icarus’ ambitions led to one moment Daedalus being a father to no longer being a father. Icarus’ fall was a warning for youthful carelessness, which can result in unfortunate events.
Icarus’ death in “Landscape with the Fall of the Icarus” by Bruegel showed the result of society’s ignorance. “Musée des Beaux Arts, ” a poem by W. H. Auden, served as a reason as to why no one saved Icarus. Ovid’s myth about Daedalus and Icarus shows how Icarus’ over ambitious and ignorant character led to his downfall. In the myth, Icarus ignored his Daedalus, which shows Icarus’ ignorance. The painting portrayed how Icarus got ignored by other people, which displayed social ignorance. Auden’s poem was a justification as to why no one saved Icarus by giving multiple reasons.
The similarity between the myth and painting is the theme of ignorance, however, the difference is the portrayal of ignorance. Ovid’s myth showed a more childlike and immature ignorance versus the painting, which showed the realistic and adultlike ignorance. The painting changes the purpose of the myth by shifting the focus of ignorance from Icarus to the world. People forgot that Icarus was over ambitious and ignored the advice that his father gave to him. Over the time, as seen in the painting, Icarus became the person who was suffering socially and gets ignored by everyone. However, if everyone has this ignorance, one can infer this as the natural behavior of human beings.
The Notion Of Goblins
The Goblin is one of the classic monsters of myth. More a class of creature than a single creature itself, it draws from myths across the world. While the classic goblin is fairly easy to describe, the many sub-species of goblin make it the type of creature that can fit into virtually any story.
One of the real issues with describing the appearance of goblins is that there are several types of goblin. Depending on where in the world you are and when the story was written, goblins can range from the terrifyingly inhuman to monsters who are only differentiated by a few minor features. There are dozens of different types of builds and bodies, though there are at least a few things that tend to be true. In most cases, goblins are short. They’re not tiny like fairies, but they are generally shorter than the average man. Most goblins tend to be quite ugly, bordering on monstrous. They have deformed features, often accompanied by being strangely hairy or having oddly-textured skin. Goblins in modern fiction tend to have long, grasping fingers that might end in claws. Most goblins also have decidedly inhuman eyes.
Powers and Abilities
The powers and abilities of a goblin tend to be related to the type of goblin in the story. There are actually fairly few universal constants in terms of power, with the exception of the fact that they can be relatively stealthy. Goblins are more likely to be active at night or in hidden places, but some myths do tend to give them the ability to turn invisible at will. As general trickster monsters, some versions of goblins may also have access to limited magic and the ability to change shape at will. In more modern tales, goblins tend to be deceptively strong for their size. They are easily able to kidnap and subdue adults, though they often are seen to prey on children and livestock. Goblins may have a certain affinity for gold or for treasure, though they can also be bound by promises and contracts. Goblins are such a diverse type of monster that it’s safe to attribute virtually any type of behavior or power to these creatures.
Goblins are a generally European invention, with the bulk of modern folklore coming out of present-day Germany. There are, however, goblin-like creatures described virtually everywhere in the world. They tend to work well as generic evil spirits and creatures, the kind of monsters that can be held responsible for everything from simple mischief to truly horrifying acts. These are the monsters that are used to explain events that are generally too horrifying the blame on man or nature. Goblins have a tendency to pop up in rural areas, especially in those that are near forests. They represent an overall fear of the dark and unknown, with the tacit admission that humans can’t necessarily fight back against those things that can’t be seen. Even the more benevolent goblins in folklore have tended to have a mean streak, so they’re also a good example of myths surrounding the importance of keeping one’s word and upholding contracts. Because goblin myths are so ubiquitous, though, they have the relatively uncommon benefit of being able to fit into virtually any type of myth framework.
Goblins have become a go-to in modern fantasy media. They are often the rank-and-file monsters, though many authors have supplanted them with the historically-similar orcs. Works that feature goblins include, but are not limited to: The Hobbit by JRR Tolkien, Snuff by Terry Pratchett, The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling, World of Warcraft – Magic: The Gathering – Fable – Labyrinth – Warhammer
Essay On The Odyssey: Odysseus As The Archetypal Trickster
Trickery is common in Greek mythology. Especially among Gods and Goddesses. They use their power of trickery to trick and deceive humans, to fulfill their wishes. An important figure in Greek mythology is Metis. She is the Goddess of wisdom and intelligence. Interestingly enough, Odysseus has been blessed with wisdom and intelligence, which gives him the ability to trick and deceive humans. Odysseus represents the idea of metis. The ancient Greeks admired metis: intelligence.
However, an important question to ask is: What skills does Odysseus possess that make him the archetypal trickster in The Odyssey? Odysseus uses skills such as disguise, storytelling and trickery, which makes it possible to recognize him as an archetypal trickster. Being a trickster is what characterizes Odysseus. As Oxford Dictionary defines a trickster: A trickster deceives and cheats people. Tricking is the ability to deceive and trick people by using skills and intelligence. This definition can be applied to Odysseus. Odysseus went by the epithet “resourceful man”, given to him by Homer. Homer used these phrases or names to describe a quality of his characters. Chris Northcott writes in his book “So only a brilliant ruler or a wise general who can use the highly intelligent for espionage is sure of great success”. This quote can be used to describe the importance of intelligence and wisdom in terms of achieving success. Odysseus is capable of achieving success through his intelligence. He uses intelligence as a way to trick humans. This is what makes it possible to call him an archetypal trickster.
This essay will focus on three different skills that Odysseus uses: firstly, trickery in terms of fooling the Cyclops into getting drunk, secondly disguising himself as a beggar to get past the suitors, lastly using storytelling as a way to get the Phaeacians to help him reach home.
Odysseus offers the cyclops wine. “Here, Cyclops, have some wine to wash down that meal of human flesh…”. He does this by showing hospitality, also known as xenia, which the Greeks adored. However, Odysseus uses this act of gesture to stab a drunk Cyclops in the eye with a pole. Odysseus combines xenia with his tricking, as he is certain it is going to work. Since an act of gesture and hospitality is received greatly by the Greeks. Along with hospitality a lot of planning is also put into getting rid of the Cyclops. Odysseus could have easily decided to kill the Cyclops, but he would be taking the risk of losing his men. His physical strength might not have been enough to kill the cyclops, but his mental strength surely is. This is important to understand because a Homeric hero like Odysseus, needs to act wisely, as his circumstances require it.
Homer shows the audience through this episode, that physical strength is not always what defines a Homeric hero. Mental strength can be equally significant in defeating your enemy. Odysseus uses the Cyclops’ stupidity against himself. “It’ Nobody’s treachery, not violence, that is doing me to death”. The Cyclops is too caught up with handling his own drunkenness, that he does not recognize there is no way Odysseus’ name could possibly be “Nobody”. Another thing is that the Cyclops is considered a savage. This is a trick played on a stupid person, by an intelligent person. It results in the defeat of the savage. Odysseus’ defeat of the Cyclops shows that sometimes, intelligence works better than muscles.
Homer has given several parallels between characters in this book, such as the parallels between Athena and Odysseus. Athena is Odysseus’ mentor, and she represents wisdom. Wisdom is a gift handed over to Odysseus. Homer has given the Homeric hero a chance to show his wisdom, through his trickery. Another piece of supporting evidence which shows Odysseus’ skills of trickery, is this passage: “My name is Nobody”. As the Cyclops calls out for help, he is unable to receive any help, because Odysseus told him his name was “Nobody” earlier. Odysseus plays it clever by hiding his identity to the Cyclops. However, the importance of this passage is that Odysseus is well aware of the fact that he cannot kill the Cyclops, due to his men being stuck. Therefore, he turns it around by taking advantage of the Cyclops’ stupidity. Along with this there lies an irony in the word “Nobody”. Odysseus is not a “Nobody”. He is indeed somebody. He is a significant hero in Greek mythology. The Greek word for nobody is outis, which is interesting because it has a similar sound to metis, which means wisdom, skill and craft. Mentor is a word derived from the word metis. Athena is Odysseus’ mentor. She is herself the Goddess of wisdom. And this gift of wisdom has been handed over to him. It is due to his intelligence and wisdom that he is able to trick and deceive others. Therefore, the irony of the name “Nobody” can be spotted through this passage. In reality he is somebody. He has received metis (wisdom), from the two goddesses: Metis and Athena. They are both Goddesses of intelligence and wisdom.
Throughout The Odyssey disguise plays a huge part in why Odysseus returns home to Ithica. Disguise is not only used by Odysseus. Athena, the goddess, used disguise in The Odyssey to approach Telemachus as his father’s old friend. Since Gods and Goddesses hold the power of disguise, and are able to trick and deceive humans, it suggests that Odysseus is quite powerful in terms of his trickery. Odysseus is not a God, but is blessed with the same powers as the Gods and Goddesses. This gift of his makes him comparable and equal to the Gods. Odysseus dresses up as a beggar to get the approval of the Suitors. “Your health, my ancient friend!” he said. “You are having a hard time now; but here’s to your happiness”. Odysseus is able to receive the approval of the suitors, after he defeats one of them. Through disguise, Odysseus is able to make the suitors do as he wishes. This is the art of disguise and trickery.
As Odysseus’ long tale about not being able to return to Ithica goes on for about 4 chapters, it makes the reader wonder what his motive with the tale was. At the end of the tale, Alcinous says, “I feel assured that you will reach your home without any further wanderings from your course, though you have suffered much”. Odysseus is able to win over the Phaeacians. They sympathize with him by helping him reach home. Once again, Odysseus makes use of his gift, by making people do what he wishes. This might not have been done by deceiving anyone, but he still tricked the Phaeacians into helping him get home to Ithica. Another important factor is Odysseus’ ability to make others appreciate the art behind his tales. If he had not been able to make them exciting and full of emotions, perhaps this would have never won over the Phaeacians. Even though the Phaeacians already had Demodocus the poet, to perform songs, Odysseus seems to stand out. His tales revolve around him. He is the poet of his own tales, and he successfully makes use of lies in his storytelling. He certainly exaggerates “Odysseus you are one of those men, whose spirit never flags and whose body never tires”. He exaggerates by complimenting himself through his tale. This makes him appear important in terms of a hero, and strong minded.
Homer portrays trickery and wisdom as important factors in the Odyssey. Homer makes it quite apparent that factors such as being mentally strong are as equally important in terms of being considered a hero, as being physically strong is. As the thesis states: Odysseus uses skills such as disguise, storytelling, and trickery, which makes it possible to recognize him as a trickster. These are all skills Odysseus possesses that makes it possible to call him a trickster. Even more importantly, without these factors Odysseus perhaps would have not been able to return home, due to the complications and events that required for him to use his intelligence and wisdom. Odysseus is a great example of a character who characterizes the idea of being a trickster. Therefore, it is important to recognize that Odysseus needs to be wise and intelligent, in order for him to trick and deceive others.
The Myth of Persephone in Ancient Greek Culture
The ancient Greeks, like many ancient cultures, believed in multiple gods. The Gods had supernatural powers and strengths. Myths about these Gods helped explain things about Greek life, These myths were important because they explained why the Greeks did things in a certain way and what was important to them. The article Greek Mythology explains that some “…myths arose when men tried to understand the natural world around them”.
The myth of Persephone and Hades was culturally significant because it helped explained the cycle of the changing seasons and also the importance of one of their religious rituals. Persephone, was the beautiful Goddess of spring who became queen of the Underworld. She was the daughter of Zeus, ruler of the sky and the Olympian Gods, and the only daughter of Demeter, Goddess of the harvest, summer and agriculture. Demeter loved Persephone very much. Hades, brother to both Demeter and Zeus, was the God of the underworld and King of the Dead.
When he saw Persephone he fell madly in love with her and wanted her for his wife. Hades asked Zeus for her hand and Zeus agreed, but Hades knew that Demeter would never agree to let her beloved daughter be taken to the Underworld so one day when Persephone was picking flowers, Hades abducted her. Demeter searched for Persephone but could not find her and was overcome with grief. As she grieved the earth became frozen and nothing would grown. Finally, Zeus became afraid that humans would all die without the “gifts” of Demeter and sent for Persephone to be returned to the Demeter. When Persephone returned to Olympus, she reveals that she has eaten six pomegranate seeds. Pomegranates were the fruit of the Underworld and the symbol of “life and death, rebirth and eternal life, fertility and marriage, and abundance” (Hamburger). This meant that Persephone was bound to Hades in the Underworld and could not return to her mother.
The Gods came to a compromise that since Persephone had eaten only six seeds she would remain in the Underworld with Hades for six months of the year and then could return to her Mother for the other six months of the year. During the half of the year that she ruled the Underworld as the Queen of the Underworld, Demeter grieved and the world became cold, Fall and Winter, and when she returned she brought the Spring and then Summer (Cartwright; Hamilton 57-64). The main reasons the character Persephone was important to Greek culture was because it helped explain a part of the natural world, before the scientific knowledge existed. According to the Ancient History Encyclopedia “The story of Demeter and Persephone was perhaps symbolic of the changing seasons and the perennial change from life to death, to life once more, or in other words, the changes from summer to winter and the return of life in spring as seen in agriculture (Cartwright). The myth of Persephone was not just a story, it was important because it actually helped the Greek people to make sense of the world around them.
Another reason the myth of Persephone was important to Greek culture is it helped explain some of the Greeks’ customs and rituals. According to Ohio State Archaeological Excavations in Greece, “myths arose to explain the manner in which and the locations at which the Greeks carried out their rites” (Greek Mythology). The religious worship of Persephone and Demeter was a big part of Greek life. The myth helped the people understand why the religious ritual existed and why they should honor them. The ancient Greek mythological character Persephone was culturally relevant because her story helped the people make sense of the natural world and understand important religious rituals. This importance is shown by the fact that the myth of Persephone shows up in many written forms over time. Persephone is seen in many examples of Greek art and architecture which also shows that she was important to Greek culture and stayed relevant for a long time.
Sisyphus Myth And The Significance Of Life
Nobody would point the finger at Sisyphus for surrendering but he doesn’t. Notwithstanding the obvious aimlessness of his undertaking, Sisyphus’ strength forces meaning. Life is just as absurd, yet we get up each day and do it again in any case. What’s more, it is from our struggle that we create meaning. We go to work and have similar discussions about similar subjects with similar individuals, drink a similar drink, handle similar difficulties, confront similar absurdities, and watch defenselessly as the these repetitive work piles on us. It’s never fully finished but endless. We are never done.
Sisyphus helps us to remember the recurrent idea of our work. Life isn’t direct, it spirals into the future in a progression of concentric circular segments. Here is breakfast time once again, here I am washing my spoon once more. Despite this redundancy we may be excused for giving up on the task. In any case, giving up isn’t unavoidable. Truth be told, the world is neither absurd nor not-ludicrous – it is vague. It is left for us to choose. No one but we can eliminate the state of our own significance. It doesn’t get any more pointless than pushing a stone up a slope. The stone doesn’t do anything, it isn’t for anything, and it’s similarly as futile at the highest point of the slope as at the base. However we should consider Sisyphus to be triumphant because he created the meaning for this mundane task. Every day he was given the opportunity to find the positive message in this task.
Like Sisyphus, we have the ability to transform our destiny into a gift. We can’t change the past, nor the majority of the conditions around us, however we can simply pick new perspectives about those occasions and conditions. In the boundlessness of cognizance, we are fundamentally allowed to force meaning onto the absurdities of life. It is just from our persistent responsibility and conclusive activity that importance rises. His familiarity with his part in life make him a tragic character. He continues pushing, regardless of whether he knows it’s trivial or that it won’t change his condition, however the comprehension of the futility of his assignment is the thing that influences him to acknowledge life as it is and, maybe, be content with it.
Take for example, the repetition of one taking a bus to school every day to study. Though we would take the bus every day, the conditions around us are ever changing which alters our perspectives. On a rainy day we might feel lazy to take this bus as the journey may seem long, but upon reaching our end-stop we may see it as a struggle that we managed to overcome. Whereas, on a sunny day we might rejoice at the idea of taking the bus as it provides us with an air conditioned environment to study for a test later on in the day. With the change on conditions, a simple repetitive task may easily have a different meaning each day. Our comprehension that this mundane task leads to an important role in the bigger picture, allows us to be content with it.
In any case, in actuality, I believe that it is fine on the off chance that we don’t find significance to life that fits what society anticipates us to infer. Toward the day’s end, we may never infer them, and this can influence us to feel futile. It is tied in with discovering satisfaction in spite of when we cannot discover importance to those life desires.
Suffering on Hope: Comparing Prometheus and Io
“Let him hurl his twin-forked lightning bolts down on my head.. let him make the wildly surging sea waves mingle with the pathways of the heavenly stars… he cannot make me die,” says Prometheus after his suffering gives him the hope to withstand Zeus (Aeschylus 83). In Prometheus Bound, Aeschylus portrays the effects of suffering on a person’s hope through the two characters of Prometheus and Io. The diverging reactions of these characters challenge us to decide whether a positive or a negative reaction to extreme suffering is the wiser choice.
Prometheus suffers dramatically, both physically and mentally, as he is punished by Zeus, a tyrant, for his love and kindness to humans. Since Prometheus disobeyed Zeus’ law, he is forced to suffer from physical pain as he is “chained here, nailed on this cliff above a deep ravine, where [he] remain” (Aeschylus 54). Prometheus writhes in pain, but he can not move, which represents his physical suffering. He also suffers mentally, as he is unable to put his gift of foresight to use, being bound to a cliff. His sufferings cause a great amount of pain, however Prometheus continues to struggle under Zeus’ wrath, showing his resolve to not submit to Zeus. Furthermore, Prometheus’ suffering affects his hope by giving him more feeling and optimism than before because he realizes that the longer he withstands Zeus and weathers the storm, not telling Zeus the secret of who is going to take over his throne, the sooner Zeus will fall from power. With a more faithful attitude, he says he “can see the day approaching when [Zeus’] mind will soften, once that secret [he] described has led to his collapse” (55). Prometheus’ belief that Zeus’ mind will eventually soften demonstrates that he gains more hope because now he believes that sooner or later Zeus will let him go, whereas in the past he did not. Although Prometheus is suffering, it causes him to be more optimistic and not submit to Zeus. This depicts that suffering has a significant effect on Prometheus’ hope because his misery helps him realize that if he remains hopeful, Zeus will collapse and he can ultimately be free. Prometheus’ story provides a lesson to the common man that sometimes suffering can be useful, as it helps people learn and can result in a positive consequence such as in Prometheus’ case, more hope. Meanwhile, another character is being tormented.
Io is also forced to suffer, only this time under Hera’s wrath; however, Io begins to lose hope because she can not bear the pain she is going through. Zeus’ lust for Io causes her to be in misery, as Hera turns Io into a cow. When explaining her story to Prometheus, Io says, “ [Hera] is oppressing [her]… setting a fearful stinging fly to chase a helpless girl…” (67). Io did not do anything wrong, but has to suffer involuntarily, as she is continuously stung by a gadfly and is forced to roam around paths that never end. This illustrates the significant amount of pain she has to bear. Moreover, Io begins to doubt her hope of deliverance. She does not want to continue being tormented in the future, as Prometheus told her she would, and she can no longer stand the pain she is in now as she says, “I would prefer to die once and for all than suffer such afflictions every day” (72-73). Io makes this statement as if she has given up on life. Instead of fighting the pain, Io would rather die because she no longer believes that her physical body or mind will be free. Furthermore, Io’s statement that she would rather die than to continue to be in agony is used to indicate that suffering has driven her too far. It is significant in representing the effects of suffering on her hope because it reveals that she has no faith left, as she can not tolerate a lifetime of pain.
Aeschylus’ Prometheus Bound illustrates how the sufferings of Prometheus and Io affect their hope. Both Prometheus and Io suffer physically and emotionally, however Prometheus is able to use his suffering to help himself become more hopeful, which gives him belief that he can withstand Zeus and eventually be free. Io, is also in great agony; however, in a contrast to Prometheus, her suffering has a negative effect on her hope, causing her to lose all of her faith because she believes that she will never be free from the pain or suffering she is going through, even in the future. Both stories provide the wisdom of positive and negative effects of suffering on a person’s hope in a manner that is understandable, and perhaps useful, to those approaching Aeschylus’ work.
The Analysis of the Primal Myth “The Story of Jumping Mouse”
What does the myth say? The Story of Jumping Mouse is a Primal myth depicting the life of Mouse and the adventure upon which he embarks. On this journey, his spirit is transformed from Mouse, to Jumping Mouse, to Eagle through tests and deeds that had to be performed. During the tale, Mouse overcomes his reservations, gains additional perspective regarding other beings, and decides that a personal sacrifice to help beings seen as Greater than himself is the right thing to do. He is therefore rewarded handsomely through a transformation into Eagle after relinquishing both of his eyes to heal two characters, Buffalo and Wolf. Through this process, he learns multiple lessons.
How might the author make the myth sound effective or convincing? The author made this myth convincing by following essential methodologies for writing a hero’s tale. A cohesive story was told that followed a central “hero”, Mouse, and included additional characters to help the plot advance. As well, the myth included common story-telling details. For example, there was a call to action from Frog, a crucial low-point after losing his eyes, and a final resolution where Jumping Mouse is transformed into Eagle. Furthermore, the author implemented lessons, as Mouse developed spiritual maturity, gained appreciation for beings Greater than himself, and became more willing to make sacrifices for the greater good.
Secondly, the author may have utilized oral traditions common in primal religions that entail not inscribing the myth in text form. It can be reasonably assumed from the writing style that this story was transcribed as only one version of the tale, dictated and possibly translated into English directly, without any major alteration. This enhances the story’s ability to resonate with readers, as the assumption that the story is just as it would be told increases authenticity and legitimacy.
Why might the author have chosen to create this myth? The author may have created this myth to highlight two major features in Primal religious teachings: animism and embeddedness. It emphasizes animism as Mouse recognizes that Buffalo and Wolf are “Greater Beings” and that all animals and places such as the Great River and Great Medicine Lake have spirits. It further accentuates embeddedness since the spirits highlighted in the tale are everywhere, as all characters and settings described have implied significance.
Secondly, this myth may have been fashioned to reinforce ideologies of faith, perseverance, trust, personal growth, generosity, and more. This is seen through growth experienced by Mouse as he completes his quest. He starts as extremely hesitant but enhances key attributes that are highly valued in primal religious teachings throughout his journey. For example, he demonstrates trust and faith by beginning the journey set forth by Frog, respect for elders through the way he treats Old Mouse, and generosity by relinquishing his eyesight for the sake of Greater Beings. The story highlights his personal growth and would show a community that by following these ideologies, surrounding spirits will ensure some form of benefits are reaped.
- Anonymous. 1994. “The Story of Jumping Mouse.” In The World’s Wisdom, by Philip Novak, 373-379. New York: HarperCollins Publishers. September 26, 2018