August 13, 2008


Zeus and Hera in a less rocky moment, courtesy of wikipedia.

The theme lately is the Odyssey of Homer, but you'll also find links and comments about current events.

Several Olympic gods are major characters in this story so it might be time to meet the family, starting with the older generation and the "royal family."

At the pinnacle of power is the sky god Zeus, who is associated with the thunderbolt and also the guardian of oaths and the laws of hospitality. He is married to his sister Hera, who gets the credit (or blame) for having invented that institution. The marriage is a bit rocky given Zeus' many infidelities with other goddesses and humans.

Zeus and Hera have two children, Ares, the despised god of war and Hephaestus, the lame god of the forge. He got that way after his parents flicked him off Olympus and he fell to earth. A master craftsman, he is known to use the tools of technology to even the score.

Hephaestus is married to "laughter loving Aphrodite," goddess of love and sexual desire, who has an ongoing fling with Ares (love and war--what can you say?) In Homer, she is referred to as Zeus' daughter although according to Hesiod she is older than the Olympic gods, having arise from the foam of the sea where the titan Kronos threw testicles of Uranus after castrating him. Kronos was in time overthrown by Zeus.

Intergenerational conflict seems to be an issue in this family...

Zeus shares dominion with two of his brothers. Poseidon is the god of the sea and is associated with earthquakes. He is extremely quarrelsome and unpredictable and is known to hold grudges--such as the one against Odysseus after the latter blinds his son Polyphemus the cyclops. Hades is god of the dead and the underworld. Theoretically, Zeus, Poseidon and Hades share the earth in common but Zeus is clearly the main dude.

Hades doesn't get out much, although he famously kidnapped the goddess Persephone, daughter of the earth and grain goddess Demeter, which led to the seasons of the year. Persephone divides her time between the underworld (winter) and Olympus.

You don't hear much about Hestia, sister of Zeus and virgin goddess of the hearth and domestic life, but she was central to private religious life in the home.

Some of the more interesting gods were the children of Zeus from his extramarital wanderings. More on them tomorrow.

A BLUNT INSTRUMENT. Here's more commentary on the RAND Corporation report that says military force is not a solution to terrorism:

"Military force usually has the opposite effect from what is intended: It is often overused, alienates the local population by its heavy-handed nature and provides a window of opportunity for terrorist-group recruitment."

SWIPE THIS. Is credit card debt the next economic bubble?

POWER OF PRIDE/SHAME ON YOU. Some researchers believe that human gestures of pride and shame or victory and defeat may be universal and inherited. At Goat Rope Farm, you could pick them up by copying the roosters...



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