Hello There. This is another one of my weird posts. It’s been on my mind for months but felt it was a bit silly. Let’s do it anyway! 🙂 I made one about dragons a while ago. But like most of the crazy ideas I have, It certainly is fun to think about. And honestly It surprised me. But this can just be a fun exercise in curiosity.
I’m well aware that most of these stories shouldn’t be taken seriously, but I’m not interested in those bits. I’m interested in to other 10% that can be. If you’ve ever read Homeric literature, you will find that the line where reality ends and fantasy begins doesn’t seem to exist. Everything is really grounded in reality. Armor does what it is supposed to, battles are deadly and involve throwing stuff at a safe distance and then hightailing it back to safety. But what really caught my eye was the way the gods are depicted. See, they don’t actually do all that much. Mostly they just mess with people via proxy (impersonate people, give them dreams) or sending omens and whatnot. They don’t murder entire armies with godly powers. And the fact that they have all of these demigod children that they often swoop in and save. The whole thing just fascinates me. And the most interesting part? They can be wounded just like anyone of flesh and blood.
In the Iliad, Aphrodite gets stabbed by Diomedes trying to protect one of her mortal sons.
Diomedes lunged at her with his sharp spear, piercing the divine robe the Graces had laboured to make for her, and wounding the flesh of her wrist near the palm. Out streamed the deathless goddess’ blood, the ichor that flows in ambrosial veins, for the gods do not eat mortal bread or drink mortal wine, but lacking our blood are called immortals.
Laughter-loving Aphrodite said: ‘Reckless Diomedes, Tydeus’ son, it was who wounded me, as I rescued my dear son Aeneas, dearest of all to me, from the field. This fierce feud’s no longer one between Greeks and Trojans: now the Danaans are at war with the gods themselves.’
The lovely goddess, Dione, replied: ‘Courage my child, and bear your pain well. Many of us who dwell on Olympus have suffered at the hands of men, attempting to injure one another. So Ares, when Otus and the mighty Ephialtes, the sons of Aloeus, bound him cruelly, trapped for thirteen months in a bronze jar. That would have been the end of Ares the warmonger, if Eriboea the sons’ lovely stepmother had not told Hermes, who spirited away the suffering Ares, almost at the end of his tether. Hera, too felt the agony, when the mighty Heracles, son of Amphitryon, pierced her right breast with his triple-barbed arrow. And even great Hades himself was stricken by a swift shaft, when that same hero, aegis-bearing Zeus’ son, wounded him at the Gate of Hell, at Pylos, among the dead, leaving him in agony. Hades fled to the house of Zeus, to high Olympus, shaken to the core and in great pain, for the arrow had pierced his mighty shoulder, and his heart was labouring. There Paeon the Healer spread soothing herbs on the wound, and cured Hades, one not made as mortals are.
Bear with me, okay? It just intrigues me. Especially because It seems like the olympians fear humans, and fear what might happen if they became too numerous. In fact, that’s why they are messing round in the war to begin with (some of their children are in it is another reason). I get this incredibly strong impression that they keep dominion more though fear than actual power. They are afraid. That line: “That would have been the end of Ares, If not for Hermes spiriting him away.”
The gods disguise themselves, cloud people’s vision, but this is all just simply a form of ‘hypnosis’ or bewitchment. That’s another thing I’ve noticed. Most ancient forms of enchantment or magic are just hypnotizing people. Throwing fireballs is just Dungeons and dragons nonsense. They do seem to differ on a physiological level though. They are taller, and I quote:
Poseidon Earth-Shaker vanished swiftly from their sight. Oïleus’ son, the fleet of foot, was first of the two Aiantes to know the god. He turned at once to the son of Telamon: ‘Ajax that was not Calchas, diviner and seer: not him, by the shape of calf and heel as he left us: it was one of the gods of Olympus, in his likeness, urging us to fight on by the ships. The gods are plainly known. Now my heart is filled with fire for war and conflict, and my hands and feet feel new strength.- Book XIII ,1-80 Poseidon rouses the Aiantes
This I find especially interesting because of the frankly rather bizarre body shapes I’ve depicted in some of the Egyptian Royalty. Their legs are certainly bizarre.
But as we all know, Zeus has his thunderbolts. Right? Well, those actually fascinate me the most. Why? Well, they mention the smell of sulfur, and flaming thunderbolts.
) Not the kind of thing you picture these days when you think of Zeus. He isn’t holding lightning. He’s holding an object that creates it. And guess what sulfur is used in? Gunpowder!
This sounds more like an actual weapon. Hold on, I better check if lightning does that anyway.Never-mind. Lightning does explode if it hits the right things. Hey, they are referencing The Iliad in the source. Goddammit. Not helpful! Anyway, here is a depiction of one of the lightning bolts. They look just like the Indian ‘Varja’ (which mean thunderbolt, by the way). They are pretty-much exactly the same thing as Zeus’s thunderbolts. And Thor’s hammer! But now I’m getting into weird territory where I really don’t want to return. (go away conspiracy land, nobody likes you.)
I think the most interesting part about that book was that I was instilled with this sense that these stories were not meant to be taken literally. It’s almost like a way of presenting information that is engaging and memorable. I think we could learn something from it, to be honest.