Emily Wilson’s translation of Aphrodite’s affair & Hephaestus’s snare – The Odyssey, Book 4, lines 265-367:

‘The poet strummed and sang a charming song

about the love of fair-crowned Aphrodite

for Ares, who gave lavish gifts to herHephaestus catching Aphrodite and Ares in their affair; circo del herrero imagery for the poem

and shamed the bed of Lord Hephaestus, where

they secretly had sex. The Sun God saw them,

and told Hephaestus–bitter news for him.

He marched into his forge to get revenge,

and set the might anvil on its block,

and hammered chains so strong that they could never

be broken or undone. He was so angry

at Ares. When his trap was made, he went

inside the room of his beloved bed,

and twined the mass of cables all around

the bedposts, and then hung them from the ceiling,

like slender spiderwebs, so finely made

that nobody could see them, even gods:

the craftsmanship was so ingenious.

When he had set the trap across the bed,

he traveled to the cultured town of Lemnos,

which was his favorite place in all the world.

Ares the golden rider had kept watch.

He saw Hephaestus, famous wonder-worker,

leaving his house, and went inside himself;

he wanted to make love with Aphrodite.

She had returned from visiting her father,

the mighty son of Cronus; there she sat.

Then Ares took her hand and said to her,

 

“My darling, let us go to bed. Hephaestus

is out of town; he must have gone to Lemnos

to see the Sintians whose speech is strange.”

 

She was exited to lie down with him;

they went to bed together. But the chaisn

ingenious Hephaestus had created

wrapped tight around them, so they could not move

or get up. THen they knew that they were trapped.

The limping god drew near–before he reached

the land of Lemnos, he had turned back home.

Troubled at heart, he came towards his house.

Standing there in the doorway, he was seized

by savage rage. He gave a mighty shout,

calling to all the gods,

 

“O Father Zeus,

and all you blessed gods who live forever,

look! You may laugh, but it is hard to bear.

See how my Aphrodite, child of Zeus,

is disrespecting me for being lame.

She loves destructive Ares, who is strong

and handsome. I am weak. I blame my parents.

If only I had not been born! But come,

see where those two are sleeping in my bed,

as lovers. I am horrified to see it.

But I predict they will not want to lie

longer like that, however great their love.

Soon they will want to wake up, but my rap

and chains will hold them fast, until her father

pays back the price I gave him for his daughter.

Her eyes stare at me like a dog. She is

so beautiful, but lacking self-control.”

 

The gods assembled at his house: Poseidon,

Earth-Shaker, helpful Hermes, and Apollo.

The goddesses stayed home, from modesty.

The blessed gods who give good things were standing

inside the doorway, and they burst out laughing,

at what a clever trap Hephaestus set.

And as they looked, they said to one another,

“Crime does not pay! The slow can beat the quick,

as no Hephaestus, who is lame and slow,

has used his skill to catch the fastest sprinter

of all those on Olympus. Ares owes

the price for his adultery.” They gossiped.

 

Apollo, son of Zeus, then said to Hermes,

“Hermes my brother, would you like to sleep

with golden Aphrodite, in her bed,

even weighed down by might chains?”

 

And Hermes

the sharp-eyed messenger replied, “Ah, brother,

Apollo lord of archery: if only!

I would be bound three times as tight or more

and let you gods and all your wives look on,

if only I could sleep with Aphrodite.”

 

Then laughter rose among the deathless gods.

Only Poseidon did not laugh. He begged

and pleaded with Hephaestus to release

Ares. He told the wonder-working god,

 

“No let him go! I promise he will pay

the penalty in full among the gods,

just as you ask.”

 

The famous liming god

replied, “Poseidon, do not ask me this.

It is disgusting, bailing scoundrels out.

How could I bind you, while the gods look on,

if Ares should escape his bond and debts?”

 

Poseidon, Lord of Earthquakes, answered him,

“Hephaestus, if he tried to dodge this debt,

I promise I will pay.”

 

The limping god

said, “Then, in courtesy to you, I must

do as you ask.” So using all his strength,

Hephaestus loosed the chains. The pair of lovers

were free from their constraints, and both jumped up.

Ares went off to Thrace, while Aphrodite

smiled as she went to Cyprus, tot he island

of Paphos, where she had a fragrant altar

and sanctuary. The Graces washed her there,

and rubbed her with the magic oil that glows

upon immortals, and they dressed her up

in gorgeous clothes. She looked astonishing.’

The gods don’t need your worship

There is something even more narcissistic than post-apocalyptic literature. It’s modern takes on mythology.

In Neil Gaiman’s American Gods, the gods need more believers. They are shadows of their once-selves. And new gods are forming—gods of the Media and the Internet—simply because humans pay more attention to them. This puts a lot of power in the unknowing hands (or heads) of mortal humans.

This plot point is what’s called “The gods need prayer badly” and it occurs so often in mythology stories that it’s become a trope on TVtropes.

In the 2010 reboot of Clash of the Titans, humans need to be reminded of “the order of things” because the gods can “feel their power draining”—as if their existence depends on humans in the first place (never mind that the gods created THEM). See deleted scene:

TVtropes even comments on the sequel:

“In the sequel Wrath of the Titans, prayers have dwindled so much that the gods have all lost their immortality and many have died before the movie even started. They still have most of their powers, but they are fading. Thus, the Titans are breaking free. On a Fridge Logic note, why are the Titans still around? The gods fuel their immortality with worship, what do the Titans use? And before there were humans to empower them, the gods took down the Titans, didn’t they?”

I could continue to list where else this lazy trope shows up, but I think you get the point. It simply doesn’t make sense and it cheats the audience out of an honest look at why myths exist. I’ll explore the following reasons:

  1. If gods exist because you believe in them, then how are they said to create man and other worldly things/creation itself? When talking about creation myths, it’s not a “chicken before the egg” dilemma. If using myth-based facts, then MEN CAME AFTER GODS. The very thought “gods exist based on human worship” (Read: American Gods) is stocked full of more hubris than the idea you’re just as powerful or as good as them (Read: Andromeda’s beauty in Clash of the Titans). HOWEVER, I will admit that the plot of “humans overthrowing their creators” (paralleled to robots vs. humans, Zeus vs. Cronus) is entirely legitimate. See number three.
  2. It’s one thing to say that the gods require worship and sacrifice for attention or for additional power. It’s entirely another to say it’s what sustains them. The gods don’t need you. You need them. That’s why you keep them happy. At most, they need you like a human needs a pet. How does prayer/worship/sacrifice legitimately feed them? Sure, it might fuel them. Their egos. But it’s not what keeps them alive. What were they “eating” before humans came along? Instead of them somehow farming humans as a concocted food immortality supply, it’s a much stronger plot point to suggest that gods created humankind out of boredom—out of wanting someone to play with—loneliness—to give themselves purpose. Thus, when that purpose is threatened, of course they’d be upset. Every parent or authority figure wants to be respected.
  3. Man may be responsible for creating out of belief, but that doesn’t mean he can kill out of disbelief. Just like believing in Santa Claus doesn’t make him real (sorry kiddos–and what the hell are you doing reading this blog?), disbelieving in gravity, that the earth is round, in global warming doesn’t make it less real. No, I’m not going to dissect Nietzsche‘s “God is dead” argument for you (in fact, Gabbler told me not to—told me to focus only on the literary points, not the philosophy), but sure, let’s go ahead and pretend that we are a threat to gods. But what kind of a threat—on what level? At the basic level, our disbelief threatens our need of them. We become self-reliant. But that could hardly be seen as an entirely bad thing for ALL the gods (for example: some of the “good” gods having to clean up our messes like 1) wars and 2) general human horribleness must get tiring). Gods only “need” us in so much as as we fight their wars for them, hurt others for them, are entertainment for them. We may not need them, but we cannot kill them from it. Sure, there may be a constant fear within every creator that they will be overthrown or overshadowed by their successors. But even when Cronus overthrew Uranus, did he really die? Indeed, in some accounts he was was merely castrated. Changed. Overthrown does not mean death.

pic1

“Gods need prayer badly” is wearing thin—to the point of ignoring entire historical cultures and tradition. Not only is it a lazy excuse for why the gods don’t get involved in our affairs anymore (i.e. because they’re dead or weak), but it assumes that these “old gods” have lost their inspirational powers. Which isn’t so. Otherwise, we’d stop talking about them in our stories so much.

By BLA. Edited for curse words and self-righteousness by GBG (without a single footnote!).

[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

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Post updated on 4/30/17

BookTuber Tuesday! Fifteen Dogs

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[“BLA and GB Gabbler” (really just a pen name – singular) are the Editor and Narrator behind THE AUTOMATION, vol. 1 of the Circo del Herrero series. They are on facebook, twitter, tumblr, goodreads, and Vulcan’s shit list.]

all yellowB&N | Amazon | Etc.

Gabbler Reviews The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton

The Philosopher Kings (Thessaly, #2)The Philosopher Kings by Jo Walton
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

So, B.L.A.’s predictions weren’t entirely accurate (see: https://circodelherreroseries.com/2015…), but there’s still one more book to go, so I’m not throwing out the prophesies just yet!

I was a bit (rather, a LOT) disappointed with this sequel because it took a step back from the intellectual momentum it built up in the first. It suffers from “second novel syndrome” in that it trudges through the plot just so it can finally arrive were it really wanted to go all along: Book 3.

Another qualm I have with the book is that it has a lady in a refrigerator–a woman dies for the sake of male character development. Right off the bat.

Beyond these, though, the weird “superpowers” given to the too-many-to-remember children of Apollo can be forgiven; the rickety deus ex machina of Zeus can be forgiven; the jarring sci-fi twist can be forgiven… Why? Because the philosophical topics the story continues to explore are its main saving grace.

But can it be this series’ continued salvation?

View all my reviews

When gods are cavemen: