Essay On Greek And Roman Mythology: Gendering The Mythic World
The Greek and Roman mythology possess a considerable powerful influence upon various concepts and philosophies including the perception of gender. It is important that we treat this influence as part of representation of gender from earliest all the way through the present times. The unyielding perseverance of Greek and Roman mythology‘s influence throughout the ages especially in current civilization has grown to be one of its most influential character. The exquisiteness and influence of mythology continue to live.
The Greek and Roman mythology has been retold with immeasurable variations again and again. The gods and goddesses, and the heroes and heroines as well as their myths kept on changing through delectably new-fangled metamorphoses that elucidate writers and their contemporary society.
Classical Greek culture was sturdily manifested by gender separation. In general, the community sphere was connected with male and with female. This separation takes place from Greek concepts of the human being’s body and the natural dissimilarities between males and females. Even if the female body and voice is sternly restricted or partly isolated in many areas of olden Greek communal existence, women did have imperative civic functions in single area: spiritual ceremony. As women prayed on both male and female spiritualities and served as priestesses in religious groups at the same time as men served as priests, doing a lot of similar behaviors, Greek thoughts on the body influenced sacramental portions of nonverbal performances, particularly concerning gesture, clothing and voice. The female and male gender both take parts in earliest rituals, intended for conversing with the gods and attaining other useful objectives. Such contribution incorporated proceedings and other structures of nonverbal performance that speak sense without expressions (Clark, 6).
Hesiod was the first to offer mythical expression and elucidation to a logical account of the origins of gods, humankind and the universe. The most primitive explanation to live can be deemed as the classic Greek adaptation. In Hesoid’s Theogony, the Greek and Roman mythology’s genealogical design is offered (Morford and Lenardon, 51). The story of Hesoid about the origins of the gods and the world brought in palpable gender dynamics which will be the main focus of this paper. It establishes the regulation of the all-powerful male father despite the presence of habitual challenges brought by a shrewd female deity. This paper aims to explain the gender dynamics within Greek and Roman mythology. It aims to present an illustration of the depiction the relationships between male-female, male-male and female-female, as well as the features that are valued for every gender.
Hesiod’s Theogony devotes countless lines to recount gendering in Greek and Roman Mythology. Hesoid treated the female gender with the fundamental matriarchal notion and her fertility as crucial and divine; the male gender materializes as an equal partner of the female, and befell as the ultimate God in patriarchal societies.
The Union of Male and Female Gods and Goddesses
Hesoid reveals the earliest deity as a female. It depicts the fundamental matriarchcal perception of mother earth along with her fertility as principal and heavenly; the epitome of the predominance of the female gender is confirmed by the proofs offered by related documents of iconography from ancient.
Another basic concept is the character of the male god Uranus, the sky god. He was produced by the female mother Earth as her equivalent partner. On the other hand, in a matriarchal setting, Uranus was reduced into an inferior associate, and in a patriarchal setting, Uranus turned into being the ultimate God.
Gaia created Uranus as equal to herself. Uranus envelops and wraps Gaia entirely to protect the domicile for the sacred gods eternally. Gaia produced the condescending mountain ranges, attractive occupancy of the godly nymphs who dwell in the dales and hills. Gaia also conceived without love, Pontus, the sterile deep, along with its furious waves. However, Gaia and Uranus eventually produced the vast Oceanus and the Titans Coeus and Crius (Morford and Lenardon, 55).
The couple also created Tethys, Thebe, Mnemosyne, Themis, Rhea, Theia, Iapetus and Hyperion. The youngest and the most awful child of Gaia and Uranus is Cronus who detests his father. Furthermore, Gaia brought forth the Cyclopes who have a single eye set on their foreheads nonetheless similar to all gods in other features. Some cyclopes include the bold Arges (Bright), Steropes (‘Lightning’) and Brontes (‘Thunder’). Cyclopes are very powerful and skillful (Morford and Lenardon, 55).
The embodiment and exaltation of earth and sky in the characters of Gaia and Uranus along with their unification is a common inveterate idea in mythology. In ancient times, agricultural people worship Gaia and Uranus for rain from sky and fertility in Earth. The depiction of the union of the sky god and mother Earth clearly represents the rain as the seeds of Uranus fertilizing the starving Earth that allows her to conceive. It eventually grew to the concept of ‘hieros gamo’, or the holy marriage. The sky and Earth gods and goddesses showed in numerous names and characters to perform this holy sacrament (Morford and Lenardon, 54).
Love, normally a powerful thing that drives conception and reproduction, inexorably shows early in the Theogony. Hesiod portrays Eros, the most beautiful goddess, through his countless evocative touches. The Romans portrayed Eros as Cupid (Morford and Lenardon, 52).
No race of gods was there until Eros drives everything to fuse. The Union of couples Uranus and Gaia gave rise to the race of every God. Eros is accountable for the vehemence of procreation. The connection amid myth and insightful religious notion and familiarity in the primordial humankind remain as a long-lasting and enthralling subject (Morford and Lenardon, 53).
The Female and Male Gender
Hesiod, as early as the opening part of his Theogony, dedicates numerous lines to the power and beauty of the Muses. He highlighted the capacity of Muses to enthuse the watertight disclosure of the writer.
In Hesoid’s Theogony, fervent earnestness regarding the power and beauty of Muses can be observed. He indicated in his writing the event when the daughters of Zeus talked to him while he was shepherding on Mt. Helicon. The Muses utter the words of being able to deceive people in countless manners, but they are also capable of telling the absolute truth as they desire (Morford and Lenardon, 51).
Hesiod's interest to the Muses is concentrated in a spiritual impression of holy enthused disclosure. When he asked about the beginning of the gods, earth, sea and stars, the muses replied that there was chaos in the beginning. But then Gaia locked groundwork of all eternity as well as the dark Tartarus in the profundity of the expansive ground; and the stunning perpetual god, Eros, triumphed over verdict and astute warning in all humans. Erebus (Tartarus’ darkness) and black Night arise from chaos, and their union created Aether (the atmosphere) and Day. This version of the beginning is quite problematic. However, some believe that the chaos in the beginning pertains to a void until Gaia came to be (Morford and Lenardon, 52).
The adoration of the feminine earth holiness has numerous significant aspects, whether or not she gets the leading function in the joint venture with her male companion. No matter what she is called, however diverse she is adored, she is important in all ages, either upholding her individual characteristics or prowling after, swaying, and coloring more compound and refined impressions of female goddess. Gaia, Aphrodite, Demeter, Hera, Themis, Rhea and Cybele are all goddess of fertility.
Undoubtedly the rational, religious and emotional array of the devotion of the mother-goddess is immeasurable. It can encompass the breadth from turbulent orgiastic revelry, with the castration of her faithful priests, to an inspirational conviction in Holy Communion and individual salvation; from a deliberate stress upon the sexual traits and effectiveness of the feminine gender to a romanticize visualization of virgin delivery, maternity and love (Morford and Lenardon, 55).
The Body of Males and Females
Greek mythology treated female gender to possess deceitful character. The female gender is connected with the concepts of birth and death which are the primary aspects of human state (Clark, 6).
Let us now deeply analyze the story of Pandora. The pithos or the storage jar possessed by Pandora can be a metaphor of Pandora herself. The jar could represent the Pandora’s body which can conceive and give birth to another human who are capable of accomplishing good and evil. The jar being empty symbolizes the body of Pandora prepared to be filled for her to be pregnant (Clark, 7).
The ancient Greece considers the woman body as a container. This thinking is evident in their daily rituals, myths and customs. This notion is also evident in the material customs and artifacts.
The female and male bodies are believed to be two distinct species by some. Aristotelian belief tells us that men’s bodies are perfect creation while the women’s bodies are referred to as imperfect men or defectives.
Men’s bodies were compact, warm and dry. On the other hand, women’s were spongy, cool and moist. Men being compact possess unyielding control. Being porous individuals, women are believed to be open to external forces and are easily being influenced. They lack control and can reshape their bodies during pregnancy. Women can leak tears and blood. The lack of control to her body is compensated by organizing her liberty, instructing of her movements, ordering of her ceremonies, imposing her of headdress, followers, and other accessories.
The spongy character of women is believed to be responsible of their characters being pollutable. They are formless and unbounded. The Greeks believed that women were particularly incapable to direct their sexuality and body processes and consequently influence the world surrounding them. They are also believed to pollute the world (Clark, 7).
Hermaphrodites in Greek Mythology
Greek mythology has plentiful of examples of Hermaphrodites along with their dual characteristics. Some Gods are hermaphrodites: Tireasias who was consecutively a male and a female; Adgistis, who has two sexes; Gynnis, the effeminate; Arsenothelys, the man-woman; and Dyalos, the androgyne.
In ancient Greece and Rome, children with uncertain gender are eliminated. These gestures for Greeks was a demonstration of their want to show the bodily exquisiteness of their race, while for the Romans gender uncertainty was explained as an abnormality with a bad omen. The fate of bisexuals, even if it became less brutal as time goes by, was on the borderline of the social order. During crisis, hermaphrodites befell as scapegoats for uncertainty and terror. A child born with anomalous sexual organs was at once condemned to death by the public, who construe this as a symbol of heavenly rage. Throughout Greek and Roman ancient times an entire progression of laws structured parents to show their infant children. Strange infants were deemed as symbols of evil that had to be eliminated through casting out further than the confines of the city. They do not kill these children for the fear of their revenge. In Rome, Hermaphrodites were used as items of pleasure.
In general, hermaphrodites or beings with dual sexes were not blessed to discover their position in whichever society in ancient times. Because they are believed to symbolize a frightening breach pertaining to the standard, they imply an obvious biological separation between male and female gender. Thus, it can also be observed that there is an existing clear segregation in roles amongst men and women. Appearance of vagueness concerning the apparent separation of the sexes was believed to be a danger. After a long time, the fear of this kind of abnormality was reduced that hermaphrodites, beings with dual sexes, need not to be heartlessly and unthinkingly eliminated (Androutsos 216).
Homosexuality can be deemed as a significant subject in the mythology. The roles of Aphrodite and Eros are major when it concerns homosexual love. Numerous vital myths possessed homosexual relationship as their main subject. These myths include the male homosexual relationships of Heracles and Hylas, Achilles and Patroclus, Apollo and Cyparissus, Apollo and Hyacinthus, Poseidon and Pelops and Zeus and Ganymede. On the other hand, the relationship of Nisus and Euryalus in Roman legend is also a moving example of male homosexual relationship.
The female homosexual relationships in Greek and Roman mythology are also important but they are not as visible as the male homosexual legends. Aphrodite was involved in this kind of love and the term lesbian was associated with her. Although this kind of relationship, lesbianism, is not very evident, they can be interpreted in subtexts. For instance, the affection demonstrated by Artemis and her female followers is an evidence of the strong bond of love.
Gendering in Greek and Roman mythology is very evident. Classical culture was sturdily manifested by gender separation. The separation of roles is demonstrated in the mythology and the concept of human body. The characteristics of men being firm warm and compact, while women being spongy, cool and moist, separate the two genders to perform different roles in the society. The union of Gaia and Uranus represents the rain as the seeds of Uranus fertilizing the starving Earth that allows her to conceive. Hesoid treated the female gender’s fundamental role as her fertility and the male gender as an equal partner who became the ultimate God.
Greek mythology treated female gender to possess deceitful character. The female gender is connected with the concepts of birth and death which are the primary aspects of human state (Clark, 6). Treatment to hermaphrodism implies an obvious biological separation between male and female gender as well as their roles in the society (Androutsos 216).
Androutsos, George. "Hermaphroditism in Greek and Roman antiquity." Hormones 5.3 (2006): 214-217.
Clark, Christina A. "Women, Gender, and Religion." Journal of Religion & Society 5 (2009): 6-20.
Morford, Mark P. O. and Robert J. Lenardon. Classical Mythology. New York: Oxford University Press, Inc., 2003.
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