Notes on MYTHS
GREEK CREATION MYTH (Hesiod)
Some basic points that emerge:
- (1) Greek gods are not 'good'. As Xenophanes complains (Powell, 135), they are like humans, only worse.
- (2) Zeus is King of the Gods (after he deposed his father, Kronos) but he is not the Creator.
- (3) Man is not created by a Creator-god, or by the oldest generation of the gods. He is a cosmic after-thought.
(See Hesiod, Five Ages of Man, in Powell, Classical Myth6, p. 122-125.)
- (4) In the Hesiodic creation story (Powell, pp. 112-123), the primary struggle is between Zeus and
Prometheus (a metter of cleverness, or ego). Human involvement is a secondary matter.
- (5) MAN is created by Prometheus. Woman is invented on orders from Zeus (Jupiter) as a committee effort (Hesiod).
- (6) WOMAN is not a helpmate, but a curse sent by Zeus upon mankind.
- (7) ZEUS is the father of Justice (DIKE) by way of THEMIS ('Order'), but he is not 'just' in all his
actions; his basic attribute and concern is his power. His behavior is that of a tyrant.
- (8) PROMETHEUS is the Benefactor of Humanity, not Zeus. Prometheus gives mankind cleverness,
intelligence, technology, religious practices, culture (writing, mathematics, astronomy,
seafaring, etc.) See excerpt from Aeschylus Prometheus Bound in Powell, 6th edition, p. 113-114.
- (9) In general, as HERODOTUS the `Father of History' puts it (ca. 450/430 B.C.), "...all deity is jealous and fond of causing troubles.".
"...god gives a glimpse of happiness to many, and then casts them down headlong."
HESIOD's VIEW OF HISTORY ('THE FIVE AGES OF HUMANITY') [POWER POINT PRESENTATION]
- (a) The gods (ZEUS, in particular) create and dispose of humankind (Bronze Age people, Heroes, Iron Age people).
- (b) History is on a downward path, in terms of ethics.
- (c) Technology is not a good thing in itself (fire, metals, war).
- (d) Mankind tends to be self-destructive. The ultimate state (Age of Iron) shows mankind as the self-centered egotistical individual without social restraints.
- (e) Justice (DIKE) and Shame (AOIDOS)
are the last divinities to abandon the earth to wicked mankind. They represent a society which is `tradition directed' and `other directed', rather than a society in which people are `self-directed' ethically. `What people think' strongly influences
the idea of GOOD or 'correct' actions. Actions are what are emphasized, not motives.
THE PANDORA STORY (Hesiod)
- (1) Zeus is vengeful and fearful. Humanity with intelligence and technology is dangerous.
- (2) Woman is invented to distract, harass and confuse men. She is `the beautiful evil in recompense for the blessing of fire.'
- (3) If a man marries, he suffers with women. If he does not, he suffers the loneliness of old age, the greed of distant relations, and the danger of being forgotten when dead.
- (4) "It is not possible to go beyond the Will of Zeus nor to deceive him."
- (5) The children of Epimetheus and Pandora, Deucalion and Pyrrha (Mr & Mrs Noah) are saved from the great catastrophic Flood because:
(a) Deucalion was the man most devoted to justice.
(b) Pyrrha was the woman most reverent toward the gods.
Their son, Hellen, is the ancestor
of all of the Greeks (the first "Hellene"). His sons are Doros, Aeolos, and Xuthus (father of Ion).
- (6) The human race is repropagated according to the prophetic advice of THEMIS, Prometheus' mother (an
earth goddess, a Titan).
© 2003. Last revised 8/31/2003, 08/03/2006, 01/13/2009 ,