“He knew, of course, that the gods never touch human food or wine.”

“Pelops was the son of Tantalos, said to be a child of Father Zeus and a favorite of the gods; such a favourite that they even invited him to their divine banquets of ambrosia and nectar and when eh invited them back, accepted. This was altogether too much for his sanity. He was beside himself with self-importance, promising his human friends that next time he was invited to Mount Olympos he  would put aside a little of the gods’ food and drink and bring it back for them to taste, and asking them meanwhile to find hi the choicest foods and wines in Greece to set before the gods. He knew, of course, that the gods never touch human food or wine. They like us to offer them a prime ram or bull and to pour on the ground a libation of he costliest wine, but not for them to consume, only to demonstrate our love and esteem, our sense of gratitude for what earth gives us, our willingness to sacrifice the best things we have in their honour.

So when the twelve Olympian gods came to diinner at [Tantalos’s] place in Arcadia — that made thirteen at the table, including the host — Tantalos did not expect them to eat any of the twenty or thirty courses he provided, nor to drink any of the choice wines from Thasos and Chios, Rhodes and Cos, and nearby Nemea. What he did expect them to do, as each delectable dish was brought in and placed on the table with its aroma wafting around the hall, as each superlative wine was opened and poured into the mixing-bowl and then both dishes and wine removed untouched, was to appreciate his very special, very expensive sacrifice. And they did. They smiled and laughed and sniffed the wonderful scents of the wines and powerful aromas drifting round the hall from every sort of meat and game and fish and vegetable and herb. But [Tantalos’s] disastrous mistake was the piece de resistance. It was a huge casserole and Tantalos in his blind pride dared to set the gods a test. Could any of them, he asked, lifting the lid himself with a  flourish so that the savour rose up in a rush with the steam, tell him what was in the casserole? A dreadful silence followed, but Tantalos thought it was only because they were flummoxed. He took a juicy piece of meat out of the pot and held it up for them to see. He even bit into it and chewed it with relish.”

Arcadian Nights by John Spurling 

 

See also: The gods don’t need your worship [essay]

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#TBT – Can we bring the Greek Gods back, Please?

That time Rob Bricken wanted to bring back the gods as if they ever left. 2013.

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“Has anyone else noticed modern organized religion is kind of a bummer? Even if your divine belief system isn’t violently persecuting another, it seems like you’re still trapped in a church singing dirges all Sunday. Modern religion doesn’t have any flair. This is why I’d like to offer a modest proposal: Let’s bring back the ancient Greek gods. Yes, I mean Zeus, Hera, Apollo, Aphrodite, Ares, the whole shebang — and here’s why I think they’d make a significant improvement over our current options.

Greek gods will have sex with you. That’s pretty awesome. Just knowing you have a chance to score with a god or goddess adds a certain zest to life. Now admittedly, some time the Greek gods got a little… er, rape-y, and that’s not cool. On the other hand, Law & Order: SVU would become super exciting.

They make at least as much sense as the other guys. One of the biggest problems with the Judeo-Christian God that Christian scholars have tried to rationalize over the centuries is how a good and loving god could allow evil to exist; while they’ve come up with plenty of answer, none of them are particularly satisfying. This isn’t an issue for the Greek gods, because they aren’t pretending to be omnipotent and loving. Like humans, they can be good and evil themselves. You don’t have to wonder why the Greek gods let bad things happen to good people, because the Greek gods can simply be assholes. They care about you as long as you’re caring/genuflecting/sacrificing bulls to them. Tit for tat. Honestly, just take a look around. Does it seem like the universe is currently being run by one omniscient guy who completely loves everybody or by a bunch of over-emotional, self-centered jerks? I rest my case.

They’re so much more fun. Here’s a short list of things we could do if we brought back the Greek gods:
• Go to oracles.
• Go on quests.
• Fight monsters.
• Challenge gods to contests.
• Go to Hades and try to rescue dead loved ones.
• Dip babies in magic rivers, making them invulnerable.
Now, not all of those are good ideas — most of them are insanely dangerous — but man, they’re still a hell of a lot more exciting than sitting in church for an hour every Sunday.”

[Via]