If you lived in Athens, Greece around the time when the great poet Homer lived, you probably would be acquainted with the many Greek gods. Homer's written compilation of the epic poems The Iliad and The Odyssey, which were formerly only told through oral tradition, would be easy for you to understand. In fact, you would know all about the pantheon of gods Homer wrote about from Athena to Zeus. However, Homer did not conceive the most unpleasant of the scandalous features of the gods, which were probably passed down from the most primitive times of Greek culture (Earp 45). In most of western culture, however, polytheism has dwindled, and the idea of one, all-powerful God is becoming prevalent in religions such as Islam and Christianity. However, the characteristics of Greek gods still present a fascinating question: Why are they so different from the idea of God today?
[...] The Greek gods of the Iliad and the Odyssey had more human characteristics than they had traditional divine characteristics, including their human emotions, their ability to be deceived, and their tendency toward human vices. This disproportionate ratio of divine characteristics to human characteristics is how Homer explains the cause of all human suffering. Kullman comes to this conclusion in his analysis of the Iliad, stating frivolous as the gods may appear to us, their actions account for the whole of human suffering and weakness” The nature of the human soul can be understood through comparison with the nature of the Greek gods (Griffin 8). [...]
[...] These unjustified bursts of destructive wrath illustrate another variety of human tendencies which the Greek gods display (Howatson and Chilvers). In addition to emotions of violence and weakness, the Greek gods displayed petty emotions which are illustrated by chronic dissatisfaction and annoyance displayed by some of the gods. Hera, the wife of Zeus, is portrayed as the typical dissatisfied wife. In most instances of Hera's contact with the other gods and Zeus, she is “seemingly witless” and constantly complaining (Bruce 54). [...]
[...] These emotions of weakness illustrate the humanity of the Greek gods by proving that the gods are not immune to pain or suffering (Hernandez 36). The Greek gods often displayed unwarranted, violent emotions illustrated by Apollo's thirst for blood and unjust brutality. Apollo, also called the Sun God, is a Greek god who loves war, violence, and bloodshed. His bloodlust leads him to listen to his faithful priest Chryses's call to bring a plague upon the Greek camp in the Iliad because of Agamemnon's shameful treatment of Chryses (Anderson). [...]
[...] To illustrate the vices of the gods, Zeus' uncontrolled bouts of rage in which he threatens other gods must be considered. He even threatens his own wife when she begins to annoy him, stating sharply see these hands? All the gods on Olympus won't be able to help you if I ever lay them on (Homer 121). The other gods were also quite fearful of their King, for one dared watch him enter without standing to greet (Homer 120). His rage was well-documented and remembered by the gods; his ascension to the throne is due to his violent abilities in battle. [...]
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