Essay #2 Final - Mou 1 Emily Mou L&S R44: 108 November 5,...

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Mou 1 Emily Mou November 5, 2007 The Vengeance of the Slighted Gods Looking into the deeply rich and intricate folds of classical Greek mythology, it is clear that the Greeks based all their stories on the actions and activities of their set of gods. A highly dynamic and varied group, the Greek gods and goddesses are often portrayed as a collection of irrational yet highly powerful beings with extreme characteristics. Although the gods almost always display far from perfect behavior, they hold a great amount of power and must therefore be honored and respected nevertheless. Like mortals, the Greek deities experience pangs of jealousy, pride, and egotism; yet unlike mortals, the gods are able to dole out consequences and punishments. Those who show pride and irreverence towards the gods of the Ancient Greeks incur divine anger and retribution for they did not give the gods their due respect and credit. In the power struggle shown in the Greek tragedies Oedipus Rex and Bacchae , the refusal to believe in a god’s sovereignty acquires the wrath of the gods, yet trying to change a god’s will for the sake of one’s own self-preservation and human happiness is an action that is also severely punished by the gods. By refusing to believe the divinity of a god’s bloodline, one totally rejects the identity of the god as immortal. In Euripides’ Bacchae , the royal Theban household of Cadmus makes this mistake when they “said Dionysus was no son of Zeus. They said Semélê was seduced by some man or other and put the blame on Zeus…for her mistake in bed.” (Euripides 28-31) By making this claim and refuting the idea that Dionysus is the son of Zeus, the family of Cadmus refuses to believe Dionysus’ standing as an immortal. As one’s bloodline and family history was extremely
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Mou 2 important in signifying one’s status in ancient Greece, Dionysus is deeply offended by his own family’s denial. Thus, he vows that he “must defend [his] mother, Semélê, and make people see [he is] a god, born by her to Zeus.” (Euripides 41-42) A fatal mistake made by Oedipus is an ardent desire to seek truth, yet not acknowledge the truth when it is presented. Oedipus is hardheadedly determined to find the killer of King Laius, yet does not believe the answer even when it is presented in front of him. When the blind prophet Tiresias first enters, Oedipus greets him as the one “who grasps all things…both of heaven and treading earth” (Euripides 315-317) and as Thebes’ “savior and defender” (Euripides 320). However, when Tiresias reveals Oedipus as Laius’ murderer, Oedipus immediately
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This note was uploaded on 04/06/2008 for the course R 44 taught by Professor Oliensis during the Fall '07 term at University of California, Berkeley.

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Essay #2 Final - Mou 1 Emily Mou L&S R44: 108 November 5,...

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