collapse

Important Announcement

Changing the Guard at The Cauldron

Sunflower is the new Host of The Cauldron: A Pagan Forum
Please read this thread for more information.

* "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" Problem Logging In?

If you get an "Unable to verify referring url. Please go back and try again" error when you try to log in, you need to be sure you are accessing the board with a url that starts with "https://ecauldron.com".  If it starts with https://www.ecauldron.com" (or "http://www.ecauldron.com") you will get this error because "www.ecauldron.com" is not technically the same website as "ecauldron.com". Moving to the more secure "https" means it is more picky about such things.

Author Topic: Rape in Greek Mythology  (Read 12562 times)

Faemon

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • Posts: 1229
  • Total likes: 9
    • View Profile
Rape in Greek Mythology
« on: July 11, 2012, 07:54:13 am »
From Elani Temperance's quote in the Mythology Taken Literally? topic, I was moved to make a topic with this as the focus (with Elani's permission to quote):

Quote from: Elani Temperance;63635
No easy answer for this one. Let me try from a Hellenic standpoint. Myths, in the olden days, were mostly used to transfer messages beyond the actual story of the myth. Even now, many Hellenics take the myths of our Gods and use them to understand the Theoi better (as they do speak of Them and give a glimps into their day-to-day life) but it doesn't stop their. We study the hymns, archeology and the many epithets of our Gods to get to know Them. Myths help, but even way back when, they weren't taken literally.

An example; Greek myth featured a lot of rape. Gods like Apollon, Hermes, Dionysos and Pan are famous for chasing Nymphs. Yet, these Gods were revered side by side with Nymphs in the ancient temples and they did so amiably.

So the myths can be an inspiration, but they're not to be taken literally. Rape didn't mean rape as we know it; often it was the transferance of divinity or a blessing. Quite a different meaning.

A PM exchange led me to this blog post by Elani about gender in Greek mythology. In a link to Susan Cole's paper on Greek sanctions against sexual assault, we find that:

Quote
Ancient Greek has no explicit term for "rape" in the sense of "sexual intercourse committed by force" but several expressions used in Greek to mean assault can, in certain circumstances, denote rape.

Abduction was one of these words, and seems to be the most frequent English translations. Etymologically, the English word "rape" has its word origins in describing thievery. In the context of a time when women were property, consent wasn't a factor... which means that in some cases, women may have consented to "rape" in the sense of that they volunteered for abduction that wouldn't be okay to their fathers or husbands.

It made me think about the opening of Herodotus' histories, referring to the wars that came about when Io, Europa, Medea, and Helen were abducted:
Quote
Now as for the carrying off of women, it is the deed, they say, of a rogue: but to make a stir about such as are carried off, argues a man a fool. Men of sense care nothing for such women, since it is plain that without their own consent they would never be forced away.

By then it's more history than mythology, but the attitudes of the time read still read as gray to me. They speak of women's consent, in the same sentence that they use the word "forced". Either the efforts of abduction ultimately as a matter of course hinged on the consent of the abductee... or the ancient Greeks really were so misogynistic that whatever came of a woman from (what was described in The Histories as) ambush and violent abduction, would be the woman's own fault.

Back to the myths, I can see some transfer of divinity or blessing being possible in consenting sexual intercourse, that is only considered rape by the vice of being unlawful or unholy to others outside of the couple.

Elani and I discussed the Medusa myth. I confessed that I (a 21st century, non-Greek, cis-gendered woman) had difficulty reconciling the idea of a goddess of wisdom punishing a victim of sexual violation. So, to my mind it would have been a conscious decision on Medusa's part to take Poseidon's blessing where Athena would take offense.

Quote from: Elani Temperance
In the older versions of this myth, it's clear that Medusa consents to the sexual acts. As she is a priestess of Athena, she was supposed to remain a virgin. Failing this, she was punished. In my opinion, and I state no sources for this because I have none, Athena also punished Medusa for the desecration of Her temple instead of Poseidon (who was equally to blame) because She wasn't in a position to punish another God.

One can also argue that Athena transformed Medusa into what she is so she would never have to deal with the violation of her body again (i.e. giving her the power to take care of herself--something much more in line with Athena's persona), should the sex have been non-consensual.

So... modern paradigm criticisms, historical cultural contexts to consider, all welcome. But mainly I wonder: What did each of these mythological stories of abduction and rape symbolize?

Here are some myths I'm thinking of, feel free to add:


Medusa's rape by Poseidon in the temple of Athena
Aura's rape by Dionysus after offending Artemis (with conspiracy by Nemesis)
Arethusa's attempted rape by the river Alpheus (with Artemis intervening for the preservation of Arethusa's autonomy)

Callisto's affair with Zeus (with double retaliation, from her virgin patron Artemis, and from Hera)
Persephone's abduction by Hades
Demeter's rape by Poseidon (during her search for Persephone)
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 08:02:27 am by Faemon »
The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

SkySamuelle

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 717
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
    • http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #1 on: July 11, 2012, 08:35:29 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63648

Persephone's abduction by Hades

 
In retellings of this specific myth, the 'rape' and 'abduction' of Persephone are often used as interchangeable terms as unfortunately rape used to be seen as property tefth and there was not, as you noted, a specific word for it.  
But in addition to that, I read that the mimicked tefth of the bride used to be part of a Greek ritual marriage - the man 'stole' the maiden from her mother's home to bring her to his house, where she was to be the mistress.

As for the sexual union between mortals and gods,  I believe it to be in general a metaphor of the mystical communion between the divine and the human- sex is ultimately about the 'merging' of two into one... I would suppose that sex between a god/goddess and his/her devotee is about Their essence pervading ours. They are not corporeal beings, at least not on this plane, so it's hard for me to conceive the notion that might physically force themselves on mortals.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ― Neil Gaiman *
Currently blogging at: http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Icon by jewelotus

Nyktelios

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 562
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #2 on: July 11, 2012, 08:59:52 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63648
So... modern paradigm criticisms, historical cultural contexts to consider, all welcome. But mainly I wonder: What did each of these mythological stories of abduction and rape symbolize?

Here are some myths I'm thinking of, feel free to add:


Medusa's rape by Poseidon in the temple of Athena
Aura's rape by Dionysus after offending Artemis (with conspiracy by Nemesis)
Arethusa's attempted rape by the river Alpheus (with Artemis intervening for the preservation of Arethusa's autonomy)

Callisto's affair with Zeus (with double retaliation, from her virgin patron Artemis, and from Hera)
Persephone's abduction by Hades
Demeter's rape by Poseidon (during her search for Persephone)

I don't know if they necessarily symbolize something deep and meaningful. Ancient Greece was a heavily patriarchal culture where women were thought of as little more than property, so raping them was not really considered a big deal (unless doing so infringed on someone else's property, like a wife or virgin daughter). There are many comedies that survived from later Greek periods and Roman times, such as those by Menander and Plautus, in which the plot revolves around a the rape of a woman by a mystery man, which is a problem only as far as that virginity was a prerequisite of contracted marriage. Luckily, the man who turns out to have raped the woman is usually the man she is married or betrothed to already, so everyone lives happily ever after after some shenanigans by wise-cracking slaves and old men. Hilarious.

Athena always sides with the men, as a masculine goddess with no mother, so she usually punishes women in her myths. In Aeschylus' play, The Eumenides, the final play in his Oresteia trilogy, Athena sides with Orestes in his trial for killing his mother, and says something about how she sides with men. The Medusa myth is the same, as she finds fault with the woman, not the man. Not even the goddesses in ancient Greece really care that much about women.

Most myths about rape are probably just about male gods asserting their dominance and control, especially those about Zeus, Poseidon, and the other most powerful gods. As male rulers of the universe, they're entitled to whatever they want, and they take it. Poseidon and Demeter are paired as husband and wife in Mycenean Linear B tablets and the region of Arcadia, and parents to a Persephone-like daughter named Despoina. As goddess of the fertile earth and god of the fertilizing water, they complement each other, but that doesn't have much to do with the rape myth. There are theories that these rapes are related to Indo-European invasions and their war gods gaining supremacy over the native fertility goddesses, but this can't really be proven one way or the other.

Modern people like to rationalize aspects of ancient cultures away and consider something like rape in myth to be symbolism, or Athena to be an independent woman feminist figure, which I don't really understand. Women in most of ancient Greece were the property of men, rape was only an issue if the girl was of citizen birth and so the property of her father or her husband, and goddesses like Athena weren't that interested in helping women.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 09:03:14 am by Nyktelios »

mlr52

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 781
  • Total likes: 0
    • View Profile
    • http://www.GIN.michaellrichardson.com
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #3 on: July 11, 2012, 09:24:31 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;63653


Athena always sides with the men, as a masculine goddess with no mother, so she usually punishes women in her myths. In Aeschylus' play, The Eumenides, the final play in his Oresteia trilogy, Athena sides with Orestes in his trial for killing his mother, and says something about how she sides with men. The Medusa myth is the same, as she finds fault with the woman, not the man. Not even the goddesses in ancient Greece really care that much about women.

Most myths about rape are probably just about male gods asserting their dominance and control, especially those about Zeus, Poseidon, and the other most powerful gods. As male rulers of the universe, they're entitled to whatever they want, and they take it. Poseidon and Demeter are paired as husband and wife in Mycenean Linear B tablets and the region of Arcadia, and parents to a Persephone-like daughter named Despoina. As goddess of the fertile earth and god of the fertilizing water, they complement each other, but that doesn't have much to do with the rape myth. There are theories that these rapes are related to Indo-European invasions and their war gods gaining supremacy over the native fertility goddesses, but this can't really be proven one way or the other.

Modern people like to rationalize aspects of ancient cultures away and consider something like rape in myth to be symbolism, or Athena to be an independent woman feminist figure, which I don't really understand. Women in most of ancient Greece were the property of men, rape was only an issue if the girl was of citizen birth and so the property of her father or her husband, and goddesses like Athena weren't that interested in helping women.

 
Is there anyway to determine who created, and told the myths (men, or women), (victor, or victim)?  I ask because it seems that those with the might did what they wanted, (might makes right), and then blamed the victim for allowing it to happen.
Light Your Candle, In Love and Service, Blessed Be.
I am a Notary Public for The State of New York, - I do not charge for Notary Fee\'s, I Live in Brooklyn, N.Y.

Faemon

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • Posts: 1229
  • Total likes: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #4 on: July 11, 2012, 10:21:14 am »
From my 21st-century point of view, consent is much more than an implied or eventual "yes". There is informed consent, and consent as an active entity. There's a big difference between an, "...okay, all right already," and a "f*** yea!" So, I interpret Persephone's story as rape all the way through. She was a minor maiden-goddess taken up by one of the most powerful gods, really unfair -- cut off from her support system, from everything familiar to her, from the environment that she's grown into that defined her identity -- and deceived into a contract that bound her to an alien energy and realm. In all the versions I've read of the myth, Persephone was starving and missed all the growing things of the upper world. And here comes her captor with a pomegranate. That's low. She might have eaten it, but there were pressures all around that shouldn't have been there if we could consider that consent by any stretch of the imagination.

That she gained power in her new role... I interpret that power as born of a continuing struggle to adjust to something very, very wrong and against her nature. After all that's happened, after personal justice had been compromised, it's easy for the springtime goddess to go dark. I see boundaries that have been broken through so many times that she's given in, for the most part. But, she's still making plants, (like Minthe/Menthe,) and letting heroes come through to rescue dead mortal women back up to the world of light and living (which seemed to have been very much against the order of things before she was brought into the underworld.) More than the goddess of springtime or queen of the dead, I see Persephone as a patroness of all who have weathered profound loss and remain out of place wherever they are. Most other gods seem to have come by their power by solidly aligning themselves to a single ideal, but Persephone seems to me to have developed a far more dynamic power of occupying the in-between.

Quote from: SkySamuelle;63652
I would suppose that sex between a god/goddess and his/her devotee is about Their essence pervading ours. They are not corporeal beings, at least not on this plane, so it's hard for me to conceive the notion that might physically force themselves on mortals.


That's very interesting. Speaking psychologically, our minds are a jumble of essences, parts of which we disallow ourselves from being pervaded by.

[ Too Much Information ahead ]

Personally, I have a lot of anti-sex obligations (as the youngest daughter of my family, always the baby, dutiful and staying out of trouble, never worryingly getting distracted and boy-crazy so I might come home pregnant or with gonorrhea in my throat) it sometimes seems as if a very forceful abduction would be the only way I can get, er, some physical wants satisfied without disappointing anybody else. It would be horrible if it did happen, first because rape is really bad sex (shouldn't even count as sex at all), second of all because I shouldn't even be considering "disappointing anybody else" with something so practically private and personal that's totally my right to explore more actively. But, my therapist says that's Persephone's archetype too -- dealing with all the social pressures to be passive about this, several centuries after the Greek wedding you described kind of went out of vogue.

[ / TMI ]

Quote from: Carnelian;63653
Most myths about rape are probably just about male gods asserting their dominance and control, especially those about Zeus, Poseidon, and the other most powerful gods. As male rulers of the universe, they're entitled to whatever they want, and they take it.

Poseidon and Demeter are paired as husband and wife in Mycenean Linear B tablets and the region of Arcadia, and parents to a Persephone-like daughter named Despoina. As goddess of the fertile earth and god of the fertilizing water, they complement each other, but that doesn't have much to do with the rape myth. There are theories that these rapes are related to Indo-European invasions and their war gods gaining supremacy over the native fertility goddesses, but this can't really be proven one way or the other.

Modern people like to rationalize aspects of ancient cultures away and consider something like rape in myth to be symbolism, or Athena to be an independent woman feminist figure, which I don't really understand.


I suppose that it could become symbolically interpreted, regardless of its origins. But you're probably right, that myths are just wish-fulfillment fanfiction written and distributed by everyone during that era who had been given enough of a voice to shape the memes of their time and region.

On a tangent, I read Lysistrata a few times, and did raise an eyebrow at what was translated as rape (I think the title character felt she had to advise her co-conspirators in peace not to enjoy it if their husbands forced them into intercourse.) It's an old trope, that women's greatest power and duty are centered on not putting out. But it was refreshing to my modern eye (though I've read elsewhere that it was an equally harmful stereotype, then and there) to read about lustful women.

And, since you bring up virginity, I also wonder if the alternate (older?) definition of virgin as a woman who probably has had sex, but just isn't obliged to stick with just one partner because of it, being a virile, mannish woman... did that apply to anyone in Greek myth?
The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

SkySamuelle

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 717
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
    • http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #5 on: July 11, 2012, 10:30:33 am »
Quote from: Carnelian;63653

Modern people like to rationalize aspects of ancient cultures away and consider something like rape in myth to be symbolism, or Athena to be an independent woman feminist figure, which I don't really understand. Women in most of ancient Greece were the property of men, rape was only an issue if the girl was of citizen birth and so the property of her father or her husband, and goddesses like Athena weren't that interested in helping women.

 
I would think it a natural consequences of considering myths being symbolic stories that carry  both the nature of gods and the culture worshipping Them.

Yes,  women were mere property of their men in past patriarcal societies and that influenced the way people approached and thought of gods. So old myths reflect that, in part.

Zeus philandering ways are probably meant to underline his role as king of gods just like Hera's persecution of his lovers is meant to underline her role of protector of marriage and the domestic order.

Some rape myths are about showing the dominance and the power of a male god, some others carry the symbolism of a culture asserting dominion over another, or of a principle above another.

It doesn't mean that looking for yet another less literal meaning behind a story is necessarily 'rationalizing'.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ― Neil Gaiman *
Currently blogging at: http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Icon by jewelotus

SkySamuelle

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 717
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
    • http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2012, 10:45:44 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63662
 And, since you bring up virginity, I also wonder if the alternate (older?) definition of virgin as a woman who probably has had sex, but just isn't obliged to stick with just one partner because of it, being a virile, mannish woman... did that apply to anyone in Greek myth?

 
The Greek original meaning of the word 'virgin' translated simply to 'young woman who is not bound to any man ' - an exemple of this might be Hekate who is described as a virgin goddess but is also described as Hermes 's lover and mother to Scylla by Phorkys.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ― Neil Gaiman *
Currently blogging at: http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Icon by jewelotus

Faemon

  • Grand Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: May 2012
  • Posts: 1229
  • Total likes: 9
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2012, 11:14:10 am »
Quote from: SkySamuelle;63663
Yes,  women were mere property of their men in past patriarcal societies and that influenced the way people approached and thought of gods. So old myths reflect that, in part.

...

It doesn't mean that looking for yet another less literal meaning behind a story is necessarily 'rationalizing'.

Indeed, it might be worse than rationalizing, to elevate expressions of the worst principle of an ancient outdated lifestyle, into some profound commentary on human nature and the cosmos and the relation of divinity and mortality. On the other hand, it would be disingenuous of worshipers to whitewash the mythology with "there was no rape." So what do we bring into modern worship when recognition is made of the presence of such an act, in the mythology? Of course we would consider it differently than the act was treated at the time, and maybe elevating it to symbolic divine wisdom is part of that -- is it a wrong way to deal with that aspect in the mythology? It does seem to carry the risk of encouraging pro-rape messages in the undercurrents of our modern life. But is there a right way to deal with these myths?

Quote from: SkySamuelle;63664
The Greek original meaning of the word 'virgin' translated simply to 'young woman who is not bound to any man ' - an exemple of this might be Hekate who is described as a virgin goddess but is also described as Hermes's lover and mother to Scylla by Phorkys.

On the other hand, Artemis' legends seem to really hammer in how 'virginal' as applied to Her meant no to any sex-having. When did that happen? I can see why, if chastity was another way for a young woman not to be bound to any man, but Artemis (at least, portrayals of Artemis that might have changed with the more puritannical times) seemed far more... strict about her dedicants being virginal in her way.
« Last Edit: July 11, 2012, 11:17:10 am by Faemon »
The Codex of Poesy: wishcraft, faelatry, alchemy, and other slight misspellings.
the Otherfaith: Chromatic Genderbending Faery Monarchs of Technology. DeviantArt

Nyktelios

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 562
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2012, 11:26:56 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63662
And, since you bring up virginity, I also wonder if the alternate (older?) definition of virgin as a woman who probably has had sex, but just isn't obliged to stick with just one partner because of it, being a virile, mannish woman... did that apply to anyone in Greek myth?


I'm not familiar with that definition. It's difficult to say, because the English word "virgin", comes from Latin and is related to the word for "man", as is the word "virtue." I think this has more to do with the Roman concept of "manliness" being synonymous with "virtuous", so a virgin was a virtuous woman with proper character befitting a woman. Like I said, in Classical Athens, virginity was a prerequisite of contracted marriage and most of ancient Greece and Rome was influenced by Classical Athenian culture, so a virtuous woman was someone who did not have sexual experience until marriage, and exemplified the female ideals of chastity and silence, and submitted to her husband in order to bear legitimate children.

In Greek, the word usually translated as "virgin" is "parthenos", which is also often translated as "maiden" or "unmarried woman". It refers to a nubile woman who has not yet married, and while it is true that it doesn't explicitly mean someone who has not had sex, I think it's implied, because premarital sex for a citizen-born female was such a taboo. It was just assumed that unmarried women would not have had sexual experience, as if they did, they were hastily married to the man who took their virginity, even if he was her rapist. Greek and Roman fathers were also within their legal rights to kill a daughter whose virginity had been compromised, as well as the man who defiled their property.

Interestingly, it survives into modern terminology in the word parthenogenesis, meaning "virgin birth".
 
Quote from: SkySamuelle;63663
It doesn't mean that looking for yet another less literal meaning behind a story is necessarily 'rationalizing'.


You're right, and I guess bringing up the Indo-Europeans and how rapes by new male gods associated with war of native fertility goddesses makes me sound a bit like a hypocrite. I just mean that many modern people in paganism idealize ancient cultures, and try to rationalize away negative aspects that don't accord with our modern values, like the militant patriarchal social structure of ancient Greece. I'm sure many rapes were metaphorical, and not always forced sexual intercourse as we understand "rape" to be, but the fact that the usual kind of rape is still pretty common in Greek myth does suggest that women weren't highly regarded in Greek society.
 
About Hekate - since ancient polytheistic traditions were not ecumenical, varying and contradicting traditions pertaining to the same deity could exist. She could be considered a virgin in some traditions, and a mother in others.

SkySamuelle

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 717
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
    • http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2012, 11:36:22 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63669
Indeed, it might be worse than rationalizing, to elevate expressions of the worst principle of an ancient outdated lifestyle, into some profound commentary on human nature and the cosmos and the relation of divinity and mortality. On the other hand, it would be disingenuous of worshipers to whitewash the mythology with "there was no rape." So what do we bring into modern worship when recognition is made of the presence of such an act, in the mythology? Of course we would consider it differently than the act was treated at the time, and maybe elevating it to symbolic divine wisdom is part of that -- is it a wrong way to deal with that aspect in the mythology? It does seem to carry the risk of encouraging pro-rape messages in the undercurrents of our modern life. But is there a right way to deal with these myths?

It's not so much about white-washing myths to fit modern worldview - for me, it's about considering that myths are not literal stories, but a way for a given givilization to translate in simple terms their understanding of divine forces . I read them and study them to get a feel of how a deity was perceived within a given socio-cultural context -their role and their character- but by no means I believe myths happened for real.

So for me it's not a matter of 'there was no rape' or 'there was rape' in this or that story, but it's a matter of understanding why the rape was inserted in that particular story  -  what it meant for the people back then and what I can read into it today, if X event is open to more than one interpretation.

Quote from: triple_entendre;63669
On the other hand, Artemis' legends seem to really hammer in how 'virginal' as applied to Her meant no to any sex-having. When did that happen? I can see why, if chastity was another way for a young woman not to be bound to any man, but Artemis (at least, portrayals of Artemis that might have changed with the more puritannical times) seemed far more... strict about her dedicants being virginal in her way.

 
*nods* Artemis is definitely a chaste maiden goddess and not only in the sense She was unmarried.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ― Neil Gaiman *
Currently blogging at: http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Icon by jewelotus

Nyktelios

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 562
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2012, 11:48:32 am »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63669
On the other hand, Artemis' legends seem to really hammer in how 'virginal' as applied to Her meant no to any sex-having. When did that happen? I can see why, if chastity was another way for a young woman not to be bound to any man, but Artemis (at least, portrayals of Artemis that might have changed with the more puritannical times) seemed far more... strict about her dedicants being virginal in her way.


This is also related to how ancient Greeks viewed women, which was wild and untamed until they were civilized by marriage. Similar to myths about the Amazons, who were strongly associated with Artemis, young, unmarried women were thought of as unruly, uncivilized, and wild. Artemis was probably originally a fertility goddess from Arcadia, associated with the life force of animals and plants, who was incorporated into the Olympian system as the sister of Apollon to contrast his realm of ordered civilization and light, while she was the dark, wild nature. Because she was associated with the wild, she was mythically considered a virgin goddess, as young unmarried girls were considered wild until they were tamed by marriage.

In modern philosophical terminology, Artemis was one representation of "the Other" to the Greek male status quo. She was the antithesis to ordered male values, although still an important divine power to be appeased.

SkySamuelle

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 717
  • Total likes: 2
    • View Profile
    • http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #11 on: July 11, 2012, 12:07:04 pm »
Quote from: Carnelian;63670

You're right, and I guess bringing up the Indo-Europeans and how rapes by new male gods associated with war of native fertility goddesses makes me sound a bit like a hypocrite. I just mean that many modern people in paganism idealize ancient cultures, and try to rationalize away negative aspects that don't accord with our modern values, like the militant patriarchal social structure of ancient Greece. I'm sure many rapes were metaphorical, and not always forced sexual intercourse as we understand "rape" to be, but the fact that the usual kind of rape is still pretty common in Greek myth does suggest that women weren't highly regarded in Greek society.


True. In fact,  Greek women benefitted by few rights and public consideration back to then, even less than Roman matrons. Celts definitely had broader views on this point and it shows from how they viewed their goddesses as well- rape in Celtic myth is rarer and it has very different 'handling'. Let's take Aine's rape  by the king Ailill Aulom. During the act She bites off his ear - and by  maiming him She makes him unfit as king and takes away his power of sovereignty
According another myth, Áine is the wife of Gearoid Iarla and he also forces himself on Her instead of seeking a consensual marital union - the goddess punishes him she  by either changing him into a goose, killing him, or both according different versions of the myth.

If you compare Aine's story with Persephone's you see similarities but you overall see the difference in how the woman/goddess was perceived differently by different cultures. For Celts, Aine was the land - her marriage with the king symbolized her blessing on his ruling, her validation of his very right to rule - and that right could be withdrawn if the king/spouse behaved worthlessly.    

Greeks had no such concept and Hades' right to take Persephone by her mother's house was validated simply by his previous agreement with Zeus.

I guess all I want to say is that myths tell the story of culture too and our culture is not the same - so maybe the new interpretation of an old story is a semi-natural step, even if I agree that we should be careful to not idealizing ancient cultures by trying to make a sense out of the myths.  




Quote from: Carnelian;63670
About Hekate - since ancient polytheistic traditions were not ecumenical, varying and contradicting traditions pertaining to the same deity could exist. She could be considered a virgin in some traditions, and a mother in others.

 
True.
“Sometimes you wake up. Sometimes the fall kills you. And sometimes, when you fall, you fly.” ― Neil Gaiman *
Currently blogging at: http://seastruckbythecrossroads.wordpress.com/
Icon by jewelotus

monsnoleedra

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Banned!
  • Posts: 957
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #12 on: July 11, 2012, 01:16:41 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63669
..
On the other hand, Artemis' legends seem to really hammer in how 'virginal' as applied to Her meant no to any sex-having. When did that happen? I can see why, if chastity was another way for a young woman not to be bound to any man, but Artemis (at least, portrayals of Artemis that might have changed with the more puritannical times) seemed far more... strict about her dedicants being virginal in her way.


That's mainly true when one looks to the Olympian Artemis and her influences.  When you move beyond that to consider the Taurian, Ephesian, Orthian and other persona's virginity is secondary to the fertility aspects of her cults.  

Even the Arcadian Artemis is more about the wild and uncivilized facets of womanhood than the structured aspects of society that the Olympian Artemis seems to rebel against and ask Zeus not to bind her to.  I suppose in many ways the concept of being influenced by "Love" serves to trap the child into the set course of womanhood within the society.  Though I admit what really intrigues me is that the Olympian Artemis is tomboyish and pre-pubscent in most descriptions so it almost implies her power against "Love" is not growing up and staying as the independent and rebelious child.  A position whihc puts her in to the notion of girls being untamed and outside of civilization and social boundaries in many ways.

When you consider the various goddess who become associated to Artemis such as Diana, Bast even Hecate to a degree you see virginity falls away or becomes so insignificant as to be almost non-existant to them.  The three cited references also know to be mother's and who give birth.  Yet at the same time retain many of the uncivilized or border traits or liminal facets between civilization and uncivilized areas.  However they also touch upon the sense of the civilized Greek world and the uncivilized non-Greek world or things not of the greek social order and proper society.

monsnoleedra

  • Sr. Master Member
  • *******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Banned!
  • Posts: 957
  • Total likes: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #13 on: July 11, 2012, 01:43:34 pm »
Quote from: SkySamuelle;63676
..  Greeks had no such concept and Hades' right to take Persephone by her mother's house was validated simply by his previous agreement with Zeus.  ..


I read an account where Persephone takes being "raped" by Hades as a chance to escape from both the rigid nature of the Greek social order but also symbolic of the rupture that occurs within the family when a child comes of age and is taken from the mother.  In part the refusal of the mother to release a daughter that has come of age and how the social order and system will be upheld.

That Hecate and Helios are the only ones who saw the abduction fits into the world view of all things under heaven and earth and Greece being the center of the civilized world, though under heaven probably is more accurate as Hecate's part maybe a later addition to the story line

Hades in many ways considered to be outside of the accepted social order.  Yet at the same time also beholden to it to ensure his place and purpose, thus he to would seek to take a wife and ensure the stability of the social structure.

So many inuendos in the story that it is difficult to define just how "rape" is used and what it means.   Ironically in her becoming the Queen of the Underworld it also answers the question of the rotation of the seasons and why.  Even to the concept of life and life coming from the underworld after a mini-death.

As an aside note it also answers how Persephone and to a degree Demeter are brough into the Olympian pantheon as thier cult (Eleusinian mysteries) if I recall correctly pre-dates the Olympian Pantheon.  It also deminishes her from her older chthonic role as an elder goddess who received the souls of the dead into the earth and holsd control over fertility of the soil.

SatAset

  • Master Member
  • ******
  • Join Date: Jul 2011
  • Posts: 482
  • Country: us
  • Total likes: 6
    • View Profile
    • Fiercely Bright One
  • Religion: Kemetic Orthodox
  • Preferred Pronouns: She, Her
Re: Rape in Greek Mythology
« Reply #14 on: July 11, 2012, 01:46:09 pm »
Quote from: triple_entendre;63648


Medusa's rape by Poseidon in the temple of Athena


 
I could see how Athene would be angry that two people were having sex in her temple.  I've read that their sexual encounter was consensual though.  If it wasn't consensual, as a modern day woman, I don't see Medusa as being at fault here. If it was consented on Medusa's part, then if she was breaking any priestess vows of chastity, I could see why she would get punished for it.  

I do wonder why Athene didn't go after Poseidon too though.  I could see them having a rivalry due to Athene winning Athens from Him and that's why He did that in Her temple.
I am the Goddess of Who I can Become. I mix the magic of the sorceress with the blade of a warrior. I walk the liminal pathways to see the face of the Goddess, both terrible and kind. As She stares back at me, I tremble in awe and ecstasy.  --SatAset

Tags:
 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
0 Replies
2201 Views
Last post September 27, 2011, 10:51:23 am
by LyricFox
20 Replies
3794 Views
Last post January 17, 2012, 03:06:17 am
by Stardancer
10 Replies
1184 Views
Last post May 14, 2014, 06:48:24 pm
by drekfletch
2 Replies
513 Views
Last post July 26, 2014, 05:06:51 pm
by carillion
0 Replies
294 Views
Last post August 31, 2018, 11:57:16 pm
by Darkhawk

* Who's Online

  • Dot Guests: 29
  • Dot Hidden: 1
  • Dot Users: 5
  • Dot Users Online:

* Please Donate!

The Cauldron's server is expensive and requires monthly payments. Please become a Bronze, Silver or Gold Donor if you can. Donations are needed every month. Without member support, we can't afford the server.

* In Memoriam

Chavi (2006)
Elspeth (2010)
Marilyn (2013)

* Cauldron Staff

Host:
Sunflower

Message Board Staff
Board Coordinator:
Darkhawk

Assistant Board Coordinator:
Aster Breo

Senior Staff:
Aisling, Jenett, Sefiru

Staff:
Allaya, Chatelaine, EclecticWheel, HarpingHawke, Kylara, PerditaPickle, rocquelaire

Discord Chat Staff
Chat Coordinator:
Morag

Cauldron Council:
Bob, Catja, Emma-Eldritch, Fausta, Jubes, Kelly, LyricFox, Phouka, Sperran, Star, Steve, Tana

Site Administrator:
Randall