Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Gods and Dogs

I love how one of the first things we notice that "god" spelled backwards is "dog."  It's one of those things we're aware of, but not quite thinking about all the time.  But we all know, right?

I'm certain plenty of people who've gone before me know why.  I'm learning why that is now.

In World Lit, we've read selections from The Iliad (which I hated), and Metamorphoses (which I liked).  We've also read all of Oedipus Rex (which I hated even more than The Iliad.)

Everything that goes wrong in the world, everything bad that happens to you, can be blamed on the gods.  They only use you when it's convenient for them and then they return to Olympus.  They will rape you, turn you into things other than human, give a piece of your future that'll make people try to keep it from happening, but then it happens anyway.

Oh yes, we had some really fun discussions about this in World Lit.  Especially where Metamorphoses was concerned with how terrible the Roman gods were to people.  Ovid held them in low esteem.  He didn't invoke the muse in a reverent way like you're supposed to, none of the stories formed a coherent larger work.  They're not connected, it's just a collection of stories.  I think that's why I liked it so much.  You didn't have to read the whole thing to understand a portion of it.

From Wikipedia:  

From the Poseidon Article:  Poseidon also had sexual intercourse with Medusa on the floor of a temple to Athena. Medusa was then changed into a monster by Athena. When she was later beheaded by the hero Perseus, Chrysaor and Pegasus emerged from her neck.

Well, that puts a new spin on Clash of the Titans.  Wasn't Pegasus in there already BEFORE he kills Medusa?  Clash of the Titans is a great movie, but it deviates a lot from the textbook myth.

From the Medusa Article:  In a late version of the Medusa myth, related by the Roman poet Ovid (Metamorphoses 4.770), Medusa was originally a ravishingly beautiful maiden, "the jealous aspiration of many suitors," priestess in Athena's temple, but when the "Lord of the Sea" Poseidon raped her in Athena's temple, the enraged and jealous Athena, choosing not to punish Poseidon, transformed Medusa's beautiful hair to serpents and made her face so terrible to behold that the mere sight of it would turn onlookers to stone. In Ovid's telling, Perseus describes Medusa's punishment [....] as just and well-deserved for the so-called crime of being raped.

For gods, they were surprisingly human.  Strike that, they were dogs.

It's always a god making trouble for a human, like Hera with Heracles (well, he was sort of human), or a monster like the kracken (dragon?) in the Perseus story.  Not to mention what Poseidon did.

Rules of Thumb When Dealing With The Greco-Romano Gods:

1 - If you're a virgin, run. (Daphne and Europa)

2 - Keep your mouth shut.  Don't draw attention to yourself.  (Cassiopeia)

1 - The gods will tell you to "Check your temper" but will go right back to Olympus. (Achilles)

2 - They're going to see their prophecies fulfilled, so you're out of luck if you hear a bad one. (Oedipus)

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