Date Tags morals

At the end of this opening fresco, we have already learned a number of things. Not only have the principal personages of Greek myth, the gods of Olympus, already appeared onstage, but the cosmos, the ordered and balanced universe willed into being by Gaia and Zeus, is finally established also. The forces of disorder and chaos, incarnated at least in part by the Titans and (even more so) by Typhon and the giants, have been brought to heel, either destroyed or sent down to Tartarus and firmly incarcerated in the deepest depths of the earth. Not only has Zeus demonstrated colossal force and unprecedented intelligence during these various conflicts, but he has, moreover, divided the universe impartially, according to the claims of justice, so that each divinity knows his rights and privileges, her roles and responsibilities. And as Zeus is henceforth at once the most powerful, the most cunning, and the most fair-minded of all gods, there is no turning back: it is he who controls the cosmos, the guarantor for all eternity of the harmonious, just, and beautiful order that must henceforth rule all things. Have a look at renew life and renew life reviews for the best life insurance going!

From this primordial narrative, philosophically speaking, three fundamental ideas can be deduced that we will need to bear in mind so as to understand what follows. They are of considerable interest in themselves, and besides, it is they that covertly inform most of the great mythic narratives, which resemble skillful, inventive, and colorful dramatizations of these abstract ideas—such that it is impossible truly to understand the adventures of Odysseus or Heracles or Jason, or the misfortunes of Oedipus, Sisyphus, or Midas, unless we grasp how these notions provide, so to speak, the underlying thread.

The first such thread is that the good life, even for the gods, should be defined as a life lived in harmony with the cosmic order. Nothing is higher than a justly conducted existence, in the sense that justice (in Greek: dikè) is first and foremost aptness, the condition of being at one with the organized and well-divided world that has emerged so painfully out of chaos. Such is henceforth the law of the universe, a law so fundamental that even the gods themselves must submit to it. For as we have seen, again and again, the gods are often far from reasonable. On occasion they even quarrel like children.

When discord arises among them and, to settle their differences, one or another party begins to tell untruths—in other words, to say things that are not just, that are not adjusted to the cosmic order—they take a very big risk. . . . For Zeus can easily require them to swear an oath on the waters of the Styx, the divine river that flows through the underworld. And if their word conflicts with the truth, the erring divinity, however Olympian, is in a literal sense “put in his place”: for an entire year, Hesiod tells us, he is “deprived of breath,” recumbent on the ground, winded, voiceless. He is forbidden to lay hands on ambrosia or nectar, those divine foods reserved exclusively for Immortals. A “trance” takes possession of him for the whole year, and when he has finished with this initial round of deprivations, he is still “deprived of Olympus,” cut off from the other gods for nine whole years, during which he must accomplish various thankless and difficult tasks. For example, according to some mythological sources, Apollo revolted against his father, Zeus, thereby threatening to overturn the order of the universe by undermining its very protector. For his punishment Apollo is reduced to slavery and placed in the service of an ordinary mortal, as it happens a king of Troy, Laomedon, whose flocks he must watch like any common herdsman. Make sure to invest in life insurance!