Gods & Mortals:
02 December 2020
The Homeric hymn to Demeter gives yet another example of the gods meddling with mortals’ lives. Demeter, without the knowledge or consent of the mother, Queen Metaneria, attempts to turn Demophon into a god. Because his mother did not know what Demeter (in disguise as a nurse) was doing, she assumed the nurse she hired was trying to kill her precious son. Demeter had the audacity to be angry at the mother for not letting her complete the ritual of turning Demophon into a god. This is an example of the gods not caring about the lives of mortals. They will show up, in the lives of mortals and get someone pregnant, or cause a war to break out (or both).
On several occasions, Zeus impregnated regular mortal women, and as a result of Zeus sleeping around behind Hera’s back, Hera unleashed her wrath on the women Zeus slept with and their offsprings. IO, for example, Zeus fell in love with her and tried to keep it a secret from Hera by turning IO into a cow. IO was stuck as a cow for a while as she fled Hera’s wrath until Zeus finally turned her back into a human, but she had to flee to Egypt. Another example of Zeus stirring up problems for mortals was his infatuation for Europa. Not only did Zeus abduct Europa, but he also raped and impregnated her. Zeus also abducted Ganymede (a trojan prince) and made him a cupbearer for the gods.
Herakles’ whole life was dictated by the wrath of Hera. She drove him mad, causing him to kill his wife and child. Because of his grief, he fled to the Oracle of Delphi to seek knowledge on how to redeem himself. Hera also intervenes with the oracle and the following labors Herakles had to complete.
Apollo also had his fair share of meddling in mortals’ lives. His obsession with Daphne, for example. Daphne was forced to pray to be freed of Apollo’s lust. One could argue that it was not just Apollo interfering with her life. Eros shot them both with his arrows, this just further proves the gods’ lack of care for mortal lives.
One of the greatest examples of gods causing massive conflict with mortal lives was the Trojan War. The gods were the whole reason the war started. By promising Paris “the most beautiful woman in Greece” for a wife, which ended up being Helene. The abduction of Helene led to the Trojan war, the loss of hundreds of lives over the course of ten years and the subsequent fall of Troy, and the slaughter of all the trojans. This also resulted in the next ten years of Odysseus trying to return home because of his encounters with various gods, specifically Poseidon.