The Issue of “Man’s Relationship with the Divine” in Greek Mythology Essay

September 29, 2020 by Essay Writer

Introduction

Historians and folklorists have argued that myths contain coded or symbolic insights into the human condition. Some of the common features of the human condition include destiny, love, hatred, “human relationship with the divine”, and association with the natural world. In most of the Greek mythologies, these aspects of the human condition are widely explored thus helping readers understand the cultural and historical backgrounds of such societies.

As the reader explores the idea of divinity throughout most of the Greek mythologies and epics, it becomes clear that there is a strong connection between the people of Greece and their gods thus making it easier for the two to manipulate one another. This discussion explores the issue of “man’s relationship with the divine” and treats it as a basic feature of the human condition.

Man’s Relationship with the Divine

The “Iliad” begins by explaining how the clash between Agamemnon, the greatest Greek warlord, and Achilles began. The author writes “Achilles is godlike”[1]. This explores the relationship between human beings and the gods. The Greeks considered their gods as holy or sacred. Their superiority and powers explained why the people developed the best relationship with their gods. It is agreeable that most of the Greek heroes in different works of literature had their ancestry connected to one or more gods.

According to Homer, most of the poleis and leaders governing different cities and states in ancient Greece had their patron goddesses or gods. There are significant stories detailing the nature of the relationship existing between the heroes and their “patron-gods”. With such kind of connection, the heroes in the cities and states became powerful. As well, there were conflicts between the gods and humans beings. Apollo was Zeus son. Agamemnon, who was Greek’s warlord, offended Apollo[2].

It would also be notable that most of the inhabitants in different states and cities in ancient Greece believed that they were descendants of a “patron god”. The works also present a unique sense of pride between the individuals and their gods or goddesses. The portrayal in different poems and epics support this connection between “human beings and the divine”. This kind of relationship between the people of Greece and their gods is evident in the Iliad and the Odyssey.

It is notable that divine intervention was always an important aspect of ancient Greek theories and literature. Most of the myths presented in the works present magical connections between gods and the citizens of Greece. In the Greek mythologies, the gods play a significant role in the experiences, fates, and lives of the people. It is also notable that “Zeus brought the Trojans and Hector to the Greek’s ships” and left the fighters to their own misery[3].

One of the outstanding goddess who portrays this kind of “human condition” between individuals and the divine is Athena. The great goddess by the name Athena is the daughter of Zeus. With her powers and capabilities, Athena is able to determine every person’s life across the country.

In the “Iliad” and the “Odyssey” by Homer, it becomes clear that the goddess is strongly involved in the lives of the people. At times, she goes ahead to assume leadership in order to control the lives and experiences of different protagonists in different Greek myths and epics.

When there is a tussle between Agamemnon and Achilles in the “Iliad”, the goddess intervenes by warning Achilles about the dangers of his personal rage. The goddess promises to give Achilles a present if he manages to control his pain and anger. This explains why the goddess portrays a classic connection between individuals and their gods.

The goddess also pays Diomedes a visit to give him strength and powers so that he can become victorious. As well, Achilles prays to his mother by saying, “mother, since you bore me for only a short life, Zeus was to grant me favor honor” and favor[4]. This shows this kind of connection between humans and the divine.

As well, it is evident from the mythologies that the Trojan War was not mainly a dispute between human beings. The war was another example trying to show an important aspect of the human condition.

It was a sign of the “ensuing dispute among the gods and their ability to control or relate with human beings”. In the “Ovid”, Pygmalion went to the temple in order to make a sacrifice to Venus. He prayed to get a woman to wed. As well, the author indicates that that another god by the name Venus knew what Pygmalion was thinking about and was pleased with the prayers[5].

It is also notable that the relationship between humans and the divine played a significant role towards the establishment of the society. Both men and gods were encouraged to work together and sometimes understand each other. More often than not, men were supposed to seek guidance and favor from their gods. As well, the gods used different men in the Greek epics and mythologies to realize their goals and objectives. The gods carefully coordinated the success of most of the heroes in the Greek epics and mythologies.

This explains why the relationship between the two is critical. Although the heroes are more or less the same as the other normal men in the society, they have better connections with their gods. As they work hard in an attempt to achieve their goals, they consider the needs of their gods. They constantly wish and hope that the divine would always stand on their sides and support their missions.

In Greek mythologies, there is a unique relationship between human beings and the divine as observed in the Iliad and the Odyssey. In these folktales, it becomes evident that the gods played a significant role towards determining the experience and future of most of the heroes and other citizens.

Although man has to encounter numerous challenges and pains unlike the gods, the relationship plays a significant role towards exploring the nature of the human condition[6]. The gods appear to take out their pains and anger actively. As a result, they have to use men in order to show their pain. This eventually determines the kind of life led by the people of Greece.

Conclusion

The idea of divinity is evident throughout most of the Greek mythologies and epics. That being the case, it becomes clear that there is a strong connection between the people and their gods thus manipulating one another. Most of people in the Greek epics and mythologies explain how the society established unique relationships with their gods.

These myths therefore manage to present symbolic insights into “the human condition”. These examples are worth considering because they help the reader understand how the question of beliefs and human faith plays a significant role towards the establishment of a given society.

Bibliography

Homer. The Essential Homer. Translated by Stanley Lombardo. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000.

Ovid. The Metamorphoses of Ovid. Translated by David Slavitt. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1994.

Footnotes

  1. Homer, The Essential Homer, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 1.
  2. Homer, The Essential Homer, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 1.
  3. Homer, The Essential Homer, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 130.
  4. Homer, The Essential Homer, trans. Stanley Lombardo (Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company, 2000), 12.
  5. Ovid, The Metamorphoses of Ovid, trans. David Slavitt (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins Press, 1994), 202.
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