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Monday, January 9, 2012

Zeus January 9, Mythology

Zeus.  Before Zeus was even born, his father Cronus had already swallowed Zeus’ three older siblings.  To save him from this fate, his mother Gaeia hid him in a secret cave with a she-goat who nursed him. 1 To Cronus she gave a large rock to swallow, claiming it was Zeus. 2  Zeus grew to manhood or possibly godhood, returning to cut open Cronus’ belly and free his sister and brothers.  Gaeia offered to become Zeus’ consort which was the Greek term for "friend with benefits," but Zeus said for a god to lay with his mother was indecent.  So instead he married his sister Hera.  With his two brothers, he divided up the rest of the universe, giving the sea to Poseidon, the underworld to Hades, and keeping the rest for himself. 3 Once, after making love with Hera, Zeus began complaining of a terrible headache; it was so excruciating, he begged one of the other gods to split his skull open with an ax.  When this was done, out popped his daughter Athena, fully grown and wearing a suit of armor. 4  Somewhere around this time Zeus began fooling around with other women.  Zeus’ MO was to sidle up to a comely lass in the guise of a bull, or thundercloud, or possibly swan.  If one guise didn’t work, he’d try another.  He didn’t need pick-up lines because he was Zeus.  Then the girl would give birth to a hero.  One woman gave birth to Hercules, another laid an egg.  With Zeus, you never knew what you’d get, and that was part of the fun.  Of course, these days we no longer believe God goes around getting women pregnant.  We’re Christian.

1. That she-goat has got to be symbolic of something, but I can't imagine what.
2. Did I mention Cronus wasn't the brightest guy on the block?
3. Notice who got all the good stuff.
4. You'd have a headache, too.

1 comment:

  1. In the courtyard at the bottom of McClung Tower (the liberal arts office building at U of Tennessee) there is a large bronze statue of Zeus (as a bull) with the nude Europa on his back...as he flies her off to Crete where he will then do what bulls do. (In his defense, during the "courtship" Zeus gave her some nice presents:...a huge bronze man to protect the island of Crete, a hunting dog that never failed to catch its prey, and a javelin that never missed its target.)
    Anyhow, the statue is used frequently by the fraternities and sororities (and other odd groups...sports teams, clubs, etc....the odder the better) in a curious initiation ritual: They slip there in the wee hours, and take photos of the prospective new members either sitting behind Europa (if a male group) and fondling her breasts, or standing behind the bull (if a female group) and rubbing the bull's rather enormous testicles. (I understand that sometimes gay groups do things in reverse.)
    The end result is that...for several weeks after the first few days of a new quarter...the statue itself has that wonderful dark green patina that antique bronze always develops. Except for Europa's breasts and Zeus's scrotum, which shine like dazzling spotlights in the sun.