The Gods and Goddesses

Many times in the past, I had heard about the city of Troy and its big walls and strategic location in ancient Greece.  I had heard about the war which lasted for a long time, and how the city has been surrounded by the enemy. The Trojans, people of Troy, had resisted during all those years of war, and their enemy was about to give up and start moving back toward home, finishing the battle. But, something unexpected happened. Some wise, clever guy from the enemy’s side came up with an interesting plot to reverse the result of the war. In fact, the idea was giving a giant wooden horse as a gift to the people of the Troy. Pretending they were leaving the battle field, the enemy ended the siege. The Trojans, happy with their achievement, accepted the gift. At night, while all the Trojans were asleep, the enemy solider got out of the wooden horse and opened the gates of the city to their fellow warriors from inside. The enemy started massacring all the citizens of the Troy and looting the city.

In those times, I didn’t know the enemies of the Trojans were the Greece, or the war started because of a beautiful woman being stolen by Paris, the princess of the Trojans, or that the story has been part of an oral tradition being told and transferred from generation to generation in ancient Greece. I had heard the name Iliad, and I knew it was written by Homer, as one of the master piece of literature from ancient Greece, but it was until this week in reading and writing class that I learned the story was written down 800 years before the birth of Jesus Christ for the first time. While reading Iliad, I learned more about Gods and Goddesses of ancient Greece mythology, for example Zeus, as the god of the sky and the most powerful god in the universe or Apollo, the god of music, poetry, sun, and light. The goddess had also power and important role in controlling the balance in the universe. For instance, Athena is the goddess of wisdom, crafts and the battle, while Aphrodite is the goddess of love and beauty. In Iliad, all these gods and goddesses have many of human characteristics. For example, they have sexual relationship with each other, and sometimes with humans too. Or they become jealous and become enemy of each other. Another interesting thing that I learned about these gods was that they do not have absolute authority over and knowledge about everything. Zeus can easily be distracted from his duty by his wife Hera who knows about the Zeus weakness point. I really enjoyed reading the first chapter of the book.

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Is It Good To Be Selfish???

The Iliad is a great piece of a Greek epic poem. I don’t have enough idea of the whole story that Iliad narrates but as far as I have read it, I like the way the dialogue goes on and on. Every character has his/her own role that creates a way for the story to move forward. Directly or indirectly every move/every decision that a character makes contributes a change a change—a pushing factor in the story, which I find very remarkable.

After reading the Book 1 of the Iliad, I have noticed that the characters are all selfish. Starting from the god and goddesses, to the people and the warriors. In the beginning goddess Eris becomes angry only for the reason that she wasn’t invited for the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. Secondly, the three goddess; Aphrodite, Athena, and Hera have greed for the apple, which would prove them as “the fairest”. And so they fight for the apple and when they try to attract Paris by presenting him attractive choices. This action of them proves that they are selfish and greedy and would do anything for themselves.

When we were just a kid, we sure were selfish and greedy to some extent. And that’s because we were very innocent to think for others and we were in the process of learning unlike the characters in the Iliad, who are grown ups and adults. Moreover, they were the gods, who are supposed to maintain peace and bring happiness. I still remember when I was young, during the birthday parties we would run for the best part of the cake (that is the creamy and chocolaty top part) and if one among us gets it, he/she would gallop it as fast as we could without sharing it to others. Likewise, during the school days whenever we had lots of homework due, many of us who have completed the assignment would be selfish and not give the notebook to others. I bet, all of us have experienced it that how selfish we behave when we try to cover our answers in the tests and examinations!!

But in life, it is not possible to live without being selfish either. We need to have these qualities in us, but with the better knowledge of knowing when to express them. The dictionary meaning of selfish is—“Devoted to or caring only for oneself; concerned primarily with one’s own interests, benefits, welfare, etc., regardless of others.” This means, one needs to make time to express oneself and think for a moment about yourself. This is an important thing to note, as these days the life is so busy. We don’t have enough time to eat, sleep or relax. People are always busy doing one thing or the other. Being selfish gives you an opportunity to be yourself and live they way you like. But again, too much selfishness in you will result in no good. It is good to be selfish as long as you are not creating/being an obstacle to others around you!

Altruism never exists on earth.

We hear people talking about altruism, like such and such social worker is very altruistic. I too think like that when I see someone helping other people, and it feels very good. However, after I read the “Iliad 1” from Iliad by Homer, I am compelled to think that even the Gods are not altruistic how can human beings be altruistic? Gods have divine power; they can do whatever they want, but again they are selfish. They use their supernatural powers for their own benefit. For example, as mentioned in Iliad, Queen of the Olympian gods, Hera and Goddess of wisdom, crafts, and battle, Athena supported the Achaeans (Greeks) in the Trojan War because they were furious with Paris, the prince of Troy. Paris had abducted Helen, queen of Sparta by seducing her. Therefore, they wanted the Trojans to be destroyed and supported the Greeks. Similarly, Apollo, God of music and the arts, supported only those who worshipped him. He unleashed plague on the Greeks as they did not worship him.

As I was reading Iliad together with my friends in Reading and Writing class, I was thinking about Selfish Gene Theory, in other words, Gene Centered View of Evolution. This theory states that the genes, the hereditary factor in living beings, compete among themselves in escalating the number of alleles for the better inheritance of the characters they possess. I was wondering that we are built of these selfish genes, then how can we be altruistic by nature?

I want to illustrate more pragmatically for the fact that altruism does not exist on this earth. Let us consider a president of a country. He is the one who is the most powerful person in his entire nation, but again he corrupts; he conspires against his own motherland. Is that altruism? Of course, not. The powerful people do not use their prowess for the welfare of the mankind; rather they are more concerned about themselves. Even the lovers love their partners purposefully, that is, with an expectation to be loved back. For example, in “The Giving Tree,” by Shel Silverstein, the tree wants the boy to love her back, so she gives all her body parts when the boy needs. Indeed, each and every activity of human beings has a purpose, and that was God’s character, rather than human’s character as the trend has been in practice far before the creation of human beings.

My view on gods of “Iliad”

After reading the first nineteen pages of the epic poem “Iliad”, I couldn’t refrain myself from comparing those gods with humans today. Honestly saying, the characteristics of every god was just excruciating and terrible. Though they were gifted with power, they all were selfish and terrific. While comparing those gods with the humans today, first thing that came up in my mind was the view of male gods towards the female gods. Similar to the contemporary society, gender discrimination could be seen. The practice of taking women as only sex object seemed to be prevailing from the eras of gods and goddesses. Zeus, one of the gods, can be a perfect example of today’s men who play with the body and flesh of women. Not only Zeus but also Agamemnon’s crave for women as well seemed disgusting for me. How could someone take others’ girl to fulfill his hunger of body? And how could be women distributed as a share of men? What about the term “prize” which had been used to denote women? Were the women goods found in supermarkets?
The pathetic situation of gender discrimination made me indignant and sad as well. For the satisfaction of men, using women and sharing them as if they are object- not human is something I really hated about the characters of the poem. While going through this poem, another similarity between humans and gods that I happened to face was the ego. Though they were powerful, a sense of arrogance could be felt. They all thought that they were supreme to others. All had a kind of ego that they were better than others and all of them used to think nothing could be done without them.
Another thing that I found similar was the selfish nature. The line in which Achilles said that the goddesses should be obeyed so that they are useful when he needed them, directly showed how selfish nature did they have. They complied with others not for the sake of their people but for their own sake. Talking to the point, I found the gods and goddesses even worse than we humans today. I felt very happy that I am not from their period where female were considered nothing more than possessions and goods of men. I felt a kind of hatred for those male gods.

Iliad 1

After reading Iliad 1, I felt like gods and goddess are not different than human beings. They are not totally free from sinful activities in a sense as they too take part in wars that took away the life of other gods and goddesses including humans too. This story seemed to be started due to quarrel among three goddesses, Aphrodite, Athena and Hera in the process of establishing themselves as most gorgeous god in the world. The authority to take decision was given to god of gods and goddess Zeus, who denied making decision as her wife Hera was also one of the contestant. So, he recommended Paris, the prince of Troy. He announced Aphrodite as the most gorgeous woman as he was offered the most beautiful girl to be her wife, Helen who was already married to Menelaus of Sparta. This broke the war between Greeks and Trojans.
This shows that gods and goddesses are also not free from selfishness. They too want own self to be most famous person in the world. In addition to that, they had also a strong desire for women as human beings do. Similarly, gods too fight with each other in order to get desired women. In fact, they are also likely to be attracted towards women as human beings. In general, humans are only allowed to have a single wife, but in case of gods, they are allowed to have numerous wives. In fact, one is honored as wife and rest of others as concubines. Similarly, goddesses are not seemed to be different from gods and other humans. They too use their body to attract gods. They too lure gods during the wars so that they could help the opponent party to win the war.
We rarely see this side of gods and goddesses, but after visualizing this side of gods and goddesses, sometimes I feel like there are no such great things that we should worship them in our life as they seem to be as humans, just quite different as they are supposed to have more spiritual power and are supposed to help who follow them and harm who deny them. May be this is the reason why our ancestors have been worshipping them since ancient time.

God and Human.

So what do you believe? Are gods as same as human. Well we deem god as superior and powerful force. They are the divinity that we believe and worship. However, after reading the epic poem “Iliad” by Homer, I am convinced our great supreme heroes are comparable to human or mortals. The gods in this poem are very powerful and yet they have characteristic like human beings. Now we regard god as strong, powerful, and very different from human. They have this supernatural power, which the mortals can only dream. They are the “gear” that controls everything. We never imagine that they would have human traits as well. In the poem “Iliad,” the poet has proficiently shown the similar characteristics of god and human. The lust, rage, jealousy, love, greed, and power are flawlessly described in the epic poem.
Zeus, the supreme ruler of Olympus, is shown as the symbol of love, lust, and what we call nowadays as “a flirt.” He has bore many children with goddess as well as with mortals. He seduces woman and easily are influenced by the beauty of a woman. He seduces woman by disguising himself, for example, he would alter himself into a beautiful swan. He is very similar to the typical human male characteristic. Male are attracted to beautiful woman, and in order to get the woman, a man would go to any extent like Zeus to achieve that woman. This is kind of amazing, not the flirting part of course, but the revelation of the characteristic of Zeus.
The anger of woman for not being beautiful is portrayed by the incident when Paris chooses Aphrodite as the “fairest one.” Hera and Athena are however, infuriated by Paris’s decision and decide to help the Achaeans annihilate the Trojans. At first when they visit Paris, prince of Troy, to decide and choose amongst the three who the “fairest” one is, they each bribe him secretly. The insensitive human behavior, taking the wrong way to persuade someone.
The image of greed, power, and selfishness are also vibrantly described in the poem. Achilles, the protagonist, is seen arguing with Agamemnon over a prize. Whenever a battle is won, the winner takes a woman as a prize of victory. When Agamemnon was asked to give up his woman, he feels his pride has been taken away and demands for another one. It is a very thoughtless argument if you look at it carefully; it is just like human fighting over little stuff, and not thinking clearly. This event has reflected the characteristic of human in god, brawling for pride and power.
The symbols and images are so vivid, the related characters we share can only amaze us. It is wonderful and shocking at the same time. Moreover, the adaptation of the poem in movie makes it even more fascinating. The movie Troy, an epic war film, has been made according to the epic poem “Iliad.”

The Trojan War and the Deities

While reading Iliad, the Greek mythology, human characteristics of Greek Deities, the power of women and their beauty coerced me to compare Gods and Goddesses with humans, and the inevitability of fate. The sense of violence is deeply rooted into both our history and belief. The Greek God Apollo sends plague to the Greek camps simply because Agamemnon was rude to his priest and took away his daughter. The easier means to please the Gods and Goddesses is the sacrifice of innocent animals. It is an evil thought to get pleasure from the smoke of the sacrifice of hundreds of oxen and goats. This may be the reason why people still don’t hesitate to kill thousands of innocent animals in the hope of pleasing their Gods. Goddess Eris resembles human characteristic of revenge, who plants the seed of war simply because she wasn’t invited in the wedding of Peleus and Thetis. On the other hand, Gods and Goddesses in some way extract pleasure from war. They are similar to humans, who possess pride, revenge, pain, envy, and desire. The story seems like a modern family drama.

The beauty of women is the major cause for ten year long Trojan War. The most beautiful woman, Helen, was abducted by Paris, son of the King of Troy, with the assistance of Goddess Aphrodite. On the other hand, the careful observation of the text reveals that the Goddesses have more power than male Gods. It is obvious in the text that women have strong influence over men. In addition, many mythologies and religious texts suggest that women’s beauty lures man easily and sometimes cause devastating problems like the Trojan War. As a matter of fact, Goddess Thetis succeeds in persuading Zeus to support Trojans in the war against Greeks.

However, when we move on to the people, women are taken as prize. They are regarded as a material of comfort and pleasure. It is painful to imagine women being distributed to men as prize. This condition exists at the same time when Gods and humans had very close tie. Even then there is vast difference in the role of women in the earth and Goddesses in the heaven.

The other important aspect of the text is that it points out that the fate chases people wherever they go. In other words, it is inevitable to escape one’s prophecy. Priam, the king of Troy had sent away his son, Paris to avoid the prophecy that he would bring trouble. Eventually, the prophecy turns into reality with the Trojan War. Helen and Aphrodite serve as a medium to the prophecy about Paris and Troy.

The Apple of Discord

As soon as I read the background history of the Iliad, The first I thing that I memorized was “the apple of discord.”  I had read this idiom in one of my grammar classes in junior high school. The idiom means a reason for a dispute. I did not know the myth behind the idiom then. It felt good when I got to know the myth. The myth was too funny. In the myth of Persephone I got to know that Greek Gods are not supposed to be virtuous. Their acts and behaviors were just like normal human-being. However, the epic oh Iliad shocked me again where I saw Aphrodite, Hera, and Athena, three of the Goddesses fighting for a simple golden apple. It was such a childish behavior of them. I have seen children only to fight for something like that. Again, Paris decided to help only Aphrodite, which made Athena and Hera furious. Again, they are goddesses of several things, such as –beauty, wisdom and battle. Athena is the goddess of wisdom, but I do not see her acting wisely. A goddess of wisdom has to be a wise person I guess, but the way she fought for the apple. In this case, she really proved that she is the goddess of battle b fuelling the war. All of  the gods were selfish and just eager to get their own benefit. I haven’t read anything about their serving the subjects yet.

However, this negligible incident of throwing the golden apple gave birth to a huge war. Personally, I do not believe in any myth because it seems to me like fairy tale. In this case, it is okay if the gods are not virtuous. Eventually, I guess there is a moral of this myth. Sometimes, we argue on a very simple matter that turns out to be a mass later. This happens with my parents always. They start to quarrel suppose on buying grocery and at a point that argument becomes so severe that they don’t even talk with each other for several days. So, it is better to overlook unnecessary matters to keep a harmony in life