Simanaitis Says

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A SHAKESPEARE REFERENCE made by columnist Maureen Dowd got me researching the ungodliness of Greek gods. Here in Parts 1 and 2 today and tomorrow are tidbits on Dowd’s observation and my ungodly gods research.

Dowd’s Observation. In “Now Comes The Naked Truth,” The New York Times, November 3, 2019, Dowd addresses the immutability of human nature: “What I learned from studying Shakespeare,” she wrote, “is that the primary colors of emotions carry through the centuries.”

She continues, “There will always be vengeful exes and envious allies and ruthless opponents and double-crossing friends. Whether the messages are being carried by pigeons or pixels, you have to protect yourself—and your data.”

An especially cogent point in this age of the Internet.

Greek Gods Too. I agree that studying Lear, Caesar, Otello, and the rest of those guys teaches us a lot about human nature. Yet the same seems to be true about studying Greek deities.

The Greek’s gods, and Roman counterparts inherited from the Greeks, had little to do with the Judaic/Christian/Muslim tradition of a monotheistic God. This capitalized God, according to Merriam-Webster, is “the Being perfect in power, wisdom, and goodness who is worshipped as creator and ruler of the universe.”

The Twelve Olympians, by contrast, are the major deities of the Greek pantheon, so named because tradition said they all resided on Mount Olympus.

Mount Olympus, today part of Greece’s first National Park. Image by stefg74.

These twelve have some commendable attributes, though they also share Dowd’s immutable truths about human nature.

Zeus/Jupiter, the king of the gods, is associated with the sky, lightening, thunder, law, order, and justice.

Jupiter of Smyrna, c. 250 A.D., at the Louvre, Paris.

On the other hand, according to Wikipedia, he’s “also infamous for his erotic escapades. These resulted in many divine and heroic offspring, including Athena, Apollo, Artemis, Hermes, Dionysus, Persephone, Perseus, Heracules, Helen of Troy, Minos, and the Muses.”

Talk about nepotism. The first five cited also make many rosters of the Twelve Olympians.

Hera/Juno is wife as well as sister of Zeus. Let’s not go there; but she’s also the goddess of marriage, women, childbirth, and the family.

Hera Campana. Roman copy of a hellenistic original, 2nd century A.D. (?).

Understandably, Hera is known for taking revenge on her husband’s lovers and their children. What a fine Netflix series this is working out to be.

We’ll continue this theme tomorrow with Zeus’s brother Poseidon. He fools around too. ds

© Dennis Simanaitis,, 2019

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