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Author Topic: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods  (Read 812 times)

TheGreenWizard

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Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« on: October 05, 2019, 04:40:23 pm »
I'm curious what others' opinions are about this topic.

Also, trigger warning: ;discussion of rape, sexual assault, and kidnapping in regards to the Greek mythos.

I'm in a Hellenismos subreddit, and their discord server - recently, I noticed that someone posted in the Discord about how certain webtoons and poetry were incorrectly portraying the Greek gods - for example, Lore Olympus gets negative comments given the original myths of Persephone and Hades (For those that don't know, originally, Hades abducts Persephone and she stays with him mainly because she ate the seeds of the Pomegranate, a fruit of the underworld - this explains why we have the seasons) versus what is shown in the webtoon (more of a love story, and more of fledgling woman who is in love with Hades, and is raped by Apollo). In addition, I've seen other comments put forth about how we must stay with the original mythos and not use contemporary (modern day) poetry because that literature was written with a Judeo-Christian viewpoint and not a Hellenic one.

So I'm wondering how, as a community - which I include recon Hellenistics to Hellenismos Remixed (aka modern Hellenismos), and to a degree, pagans who work within the Hellenismos framework - how do we evolve? Can the myths be rewritten, readapted, written in new ways? Or is there value in keeping them as they are, and learning from them what the Ancient Greeks wanted us to learn?
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Sefiru

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2019, 07:25:31 pm »
how do we evolve? Can the myths be rewritten, readapted, written in new ways? Or is there value in keeping them as they are, and learning from them what the Ancient Greeks wanted us to learn?

I'm kemetic, rather than hellenistic, but the same sorts of issues come up. For me, the answer is, both. Sure, it's important to understand where a tradition came from, but:

- if we want a living practice, and not a museum piece, myths must be adapted. Society, culture and technology are drastically different, and so are the issues that practitioners need mythology to address. Looking globally, myths do adapt and change; the idea that It Is Written And Immutable is, itself, a Judeo-Christian viewpoint.

- Much of the 'original' mythology we know today is fragmentary, and passed through the lens of Victorian Gentlemen scholars who put their own spin on things. (Jenett just posted about this in another thread).

An example from Egyptian mythology: in the Contendings of Horus and Set, there is an event which is usually described as 'Set raping Horus'. But when I got my hands on a direct translation, the actual text just says they 'lay down together' and then describes a sex act; there's no mention of any kind of force or lack of consent. But this myth was first translated at a time when consensual relations between men were not acknowledged to be a thing, and so the 'rape' interpretation stuck.

(See also: Victorian-era archaeologists suppressing or even destroying 'lewd' ancient artwork.)

TheGreenWizard

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #2 on: October 26, 2019, 04:53:33 pm »
I'm kemetic, rather than hellenistic, but the same sorts of issues come up. For me, the answer is, both. Sure, it's important to understand where a tradition came from, but:

- if we want a living practice, and not a museum piece, myths must be adapted. Society, culture and technology are drastically different, and so are the issues that practitioners need mythology to address. Looking globally, myths do adapt and change; the idea that It Is Written And Immutable is, itself, a Judeo-Christian viewpoint.

- Much of the 'original' mythology we know today is fragmentary, and passed through the lens of Victorian Gentlemen scholars who put their own spin on things. (Jenett just posted about this in another thread).

An example from Egyptian mythology: in the Contendings of Horus and Set, there is an event which is usually described as 'Set raping Horus'. But when I got my hands on a direct translation, the actual text just says they 'lay down together' and then describes a sex act; there's no mention of any kind of force or lack of consent. But this myth was first translated at a time when consensual relations between men were not acknowledged to be a thing, and so the 'rape' interpretation stuck.

(See also: Victorian-era archaeologists suppressing or even destroying 'lewd' ancient artwork.)

See, I find this fascinating - to work from the original texts, and a direct translation to see what biases were put into place by the generations that originally translated these myths. I'd love to get into that now, but with how my professional life is (#teacherlife) I don't have the time to do so.

That said, I am curious about people's opinions on reinterpreting the myths so that they are seen in today's lens. For example, Lore Olympus on WebToons takes the traditional Hades-kidnaps-Persephone-rapes-her-and-makes-her-his-bride myth and turns it on its head to where Apollo is the one who actually rapes Kore, Hades is more of a loner who is looking for someone who actually loves him, and seeing Kore develop into Persephone, Queen of the Underworld. In another interpretation of this myth (Theia Mania Comics), I see this again, however, it's more that Demeter is forcing upon Kore/Persephone the fertility aspect, but at the same time, Demeter wants her to never be alone with any of the male gods. However, we see this relationship develop between her and her uncle, Hades (which, is another interesting aspect and notion to keep in mind with the Greek pantheon). And lastly, there's another interpretation that basically - in my viewing of it - Persephone is still kidnapped, but she falls in love with Hades after spending time with him, a la Beauty and the Beast, but to a lesser degree of what the Beast does to Belle... more like, Persephone sees how kind and caring Hades is of the denizens of the Underworld.

With all of these interpretations, I'm sensing that new myths are being created - either through inspiration writers receive, or through UPG/SPG - and the community is now fleecing these myths for credibility (I think?). I'm of the opinion that this is great because it can be so hard to connect with this older literature versus what someone of the current times could write to make it more accessible. However, I'm wondering if through these new interpretations we miss out on some lesson or teaching that was in the original and now is not.
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Anon100

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #3 on: October 26, 2019, 05:18:11 pm »
if we want a living practice, and not a museum piece, myths must be adapted. Society, culture and technology are drastically different, and so are the issues that practitioners need mythology to address. Looking globally, myths do adapt and change; the idea that It Is Written And Immutable is, itself, a Judeo-Christian viewpoint.

First I want to say that I'm not a Hellenic or Roman recon, thus my post is more a thought on direction rather than having much solid strength.

I also have no great in depth knowledge in any of these areas ( until recently I was more interested in myths and legends for the pleasure of the tales rather than for deeper knowledge ). I've certainly come across the original Persephone legend ( but not this newer version ).

I wonder if ( and how much ) change occured within the various myths/legends while the religions were originally living practices.
I'm personally thinking of the Norse and something I heard once of how Loki was notable for having changed in personality from mischevious trixter to outright villain over the period of the myths related to him. Now this is only hearsay on my part but the possibility is interesting and may affect how we look at our modern interpretations

Ps. Please excuse my using an example from a different pantheon
« Last Edit: October 26, 2019, 05:21:34 pm by Anon100 »

Sefiru

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #4 on: October 28, 2019, 06:28:54 pm »
with how my professional life is (#teacherlife) I don't have the time to do so.

Word. In hindsight, I'm kind of glad I didn't go into public school teaching even though I got my B.Ed. I don't think I'd have the energy to do it.

Quote
there's another interpretation that basically - in my viewing of it - Persephone is still kidnapped, but she falls in love with Hades after spending time with him, a la Beauty and the Beast, but to a lesser degree of what the Beast does to Belle... more like, Persephone sees how kind and caring Hades is of the denizens of the Underworld.

I've also seen a version where Persephone and Hades actually elope, with Demeter being disapproving of the relationship. (I think it was a Percy Jackson fanfic.)

Quote
However, I'm wondering if through these new interpretations we miss out on some lesson or teaching that was in the original and now is not.

It's possible ... but we're lucky, in this literate age, that we still have access to the older versions alongside the new ones. Though really, if a social lesson does fall out of 'active mythology', it may be that it's one that isn't applicable anymore. Stories that resonate tend to stay alive.

Darkhawk

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #5 on: November 03, 2019, 02:39:48 pm »
However, I'm wondering if through these new interpretations we miss out on some lesson or teaching that was in the original and now is not.

IIRC at least one version of the original mythology is that Zeus (as patriarch) had arranged the marriage and Demeter would not let go, so the abduction (remember "rape" is originally "abduction", I suspect the sexual meaning crept in over time because of what happens to abducted women) was Hades claiming what was, according to the actual local law and custom, his by right, that Demeter wasn't letting him have.

(Throwing that into the interp stew.)
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Louisvillian

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #6 on: November 05, 2019, 01:51:08 am »
Can the myths be rewritten, readapted, written in new ways? Or is there value in keeping them as they are, and learning from them what the Ancient Greeks wanted us to learn?
You can do both, I think. Keeping in mind, the myths changed a lot during Antiquity. It was primarily an oral tradition, and the versions we are most familiar with come from a few surviving written sources. But those are just snapshots, they are not the entirety of what those myths were. The ancient Hellenes and Romans largely rejected having any single, canonical version of mythology. Every local cult or city religion had their own versions.

So, yes, I think it is important and valuable to learn the ancient myths and their variations, to help understand the culture that produced them, because it's that culture that also produced the rituals we practice and first contextualized the gods we worship.

At the same time, I do not think there is anything wrong or devaluing to rewrite or adapt the myths to suit modern sensibilities and needs. I think there's some resistance to that because it's assumed that every modern moral concept or social norm is a product of Christianity's 2000-year long influence, and consequently those ideas are all tarnished. But I think there are certain ideas in modern society that are unequivocally better than what was assumed in Antiquity-- most relevant here to the myth of Hades and Persephone, is the acknowledgement that women have agency over their lives, and not just a commodity for family patriarchs to trade away. The culture of a given time have an enormous impact on the myths that culture creates.

In that context, yes, sometimes the myths need to be reappraised and rewritten.

[Adding blank lines where paragraph breaks were clearly intended - SP]
« Last Edit: November 06, 2019, 12:05:48 pm by SunflowerP »

arete

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2019, 01:05:06 pm »
how do we evolve? Can the myths be rewritten, readapted, written in new ways? Or is there value in keeping them as they are, and learning from them what the Ancient Greeks wanted us to learn?
Do you mean rewritten as for Art purposes or for Religion purposes? Because in Art we can do whatever we want.

TheGreenWizard

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2019, 04:59:52 pm »
IIRC at least one version of the original mythology is that Zeus (as patriarch) had arranged the marriage and Demeter would not let go, so the abduction (remember "rape" is originally "abduction", I suspect the sexual meaning crept in over time because of what happens to abducted women) was Hades claiming what was, according to the actual local law and custom, his by right, that Demeter wasn't letting him have.

(Throwing that into the interp stew.)

Thank you for throwing this into the interp stew!! Now that I am a bit more clear headed (gotta love weddings on the weekends), this makes more sense, especially with regards to putting it all into context. Now, I wonder if I could find that version and see if it could be updated to modern values... hmm.
“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...”
― Dr. Seuss, Oh, the Places You'll Go

Darkhawk

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Re: Poetry, Mythos, and the Hellenic Gods
« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2019, 08:00:32 pm »
Thank you for throwing this into the interp stew!! Now that I am a bit more clear headed (gotta love weddings on the weekends), this makes more sense, especially with regards to putting it all into context. Now, I wonder if I could find that version and see if it could be updated to modern values... hmm.

I would not be surprised if that's some of what's going into the Lore Olympus worldbuilding, at least an awareness of that myth version - certainly it's got the right Demeter.
as the water grinds the stone
we rise and fall
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we shine like stars    - Covenant, "Bullet"

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