Zeus Myth Served Several Functions in Ancient Essay

Pages: 3 (897 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1  ·  File: .docx  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Drama - World


Myth served several functions in ancient Greek and Roman societies, providing them with a backbone for religious ritual, practice, and ideology. For example, Zeus was worshiped at Olympia in Greece. Zeus also represented "control" over the "natural order," according to Morford & Lenardon (p. 7). Myths were therefore integral to ancient Greek and Roman social structures and psychological realities. Zeus also embodied gender roles and norms in ancient Greece and Rome. The ultimate paternal figure, Zeus was also the quintessential chauvinist who used his divine powers to seduce and then rape mortal women (Morford & Lenardon p. 20). However, the Greeks sometimes presented Zeus' sexual exploits as being "for a grand purpose intended for the ultimate good of the world," (Morford & Lenardon p. 20). Zeus also became paired with a wife Hera, even though he was unabashedly promiscuous. The formulated their tales of Zeus with sufficient moral ambiguity to allow for a rich and intelligent discourse on human psychology and sociology.Buy full Download Microsoft Word File paper
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Zeus also symbolized the Greek concept of masculinity and male sexuality. His tools are thunderous and include the phallic symbol of the lightening bolt. Yet the god was not just interested in spreading his seed. In fact, Morford & Lenardon point out that Zeus pursued intimate relationships with males as well as females, elucidating Greek sexual norms as supporting a pursuit of pleasure (p. 22). Zeus appears as a strong character in Greek poetry: such as that of Homer and of Hesiod. Hesiod established Zeus as the ultimate symbol of male potency and virility: the progenitor of the human species because of his being descended from the Titans (Morford & Lenardon p. 26). According to Hesiod, Zeus "became supreme" and had astonishing organizational capacities in heading the Greek pantheon (Morford & Lenardon p. 26). Therefore, Zeus also became a role model for ideal political leadership in ancient Greece. The proposed political leader was strong, powerful, decisive, and male. Interestingly, Zeus does not appear in Homer's hymns to the gods. Homer's omission may signify ambivalence in the relationship between Greeks and their chief patriarch. Morford & Lenardon suggest that the worship of Zeus was a distinctly Mycenean feature that would supplant a Minoan emphasis on female power.

As top progenitor and prolific procreator, Zeus is endowed with an abundance of creative energy and superhuman powers. He can interfere with the lives of the gods as well as of the mortals and even has the power to turn mortal into god (Morford & Lenardon p. 61). As son of Cronos, or Saturn to the Romans, Zeus has a strong connection with the passage and control of time. Zeus represents a major shift in consciousness among the ancients.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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