Thursday, October 19, 2017

TFBT; The Seven Wives of Zeus III

Zeus Co-opts Authorities, Powers and Dominions

There are many ways to interpret myths.  Many ways to interpret the Hesiodic version of the wives of Zeus.  Here are a few ways to look at it.  

·      The myths about the gods’ seduction of nymphs refers to marriages between (newly-arrived) Hellenic chieftains and local Moon priestesses; bitterly opposed by ‘Hera’, which means by conservative religious feeling” [i]
·      The “Pan-Hellenic urge” forces Pan-Hellenic poets like Homer and Hesiod to deal with local myth and local versions on Pan-Hellenic myth; “The familiar Olympian system was then agreed upon as a compromise between Hellenic and pre-Hellenic views: a divine family of six gods and six goddesses, forming a Council of Gods in Babylonian style”  [ii]

·      “Zeus does not marry her, (Styx) but in a sense he co-opts or adopts her powerful children, (Rivalry, and sweet-stepping Victory, and also Strength and Force) children who could in fact become a threat to his sovereignty if not kept within his control.[iii]

So by marrying;

1.   Metis; Zeus co-opts her Wisdom, daughter Athena, who is “all for the father” and the Athenian Empire

2. Themis;   Zeus attains a life-long counselor and control of his daughters’ authority over ; Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace) and by claiming fatherhood over  Clotho, and Lachesis, and Atropos who are Destiny itself. 

3) Eurynome; Zeus attains a foothold in the Orphic Mysteries and fatherhood of the three fair-cheeked social graces, Aglaea, and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thaleia,  

4) Demeter; Zeus attains a foothold in the Eleusinian Mysteries.  

5) Mnemosyne; Zeus can claim to be the father of the authorities on the arts and sciences, the nine gold-crowned Muses  

6)  Leto:  Zeus has another claim of dominion over Delphi (via Leto’s mother) and can enthrone his mouthpiece and son Apollo there.  In addition he can lay claim to Delos and the Ionians.  Artemis delighting in arrows enthroned most famously in Ephesus is now subject to Zeus

7)  Lastly, he made Hera his blooming wife, giving him dominion over the “islands” of Pelopennsia & Samos along with authority over Immortality (Hebe) and War (Ares) and (Childbirth) Eileithyia.

So whether “Zeus” is this myth represents invading Japhethic chieftains, the “Pan-Hellenic Urge“ or literally the “Father of gods and men” himself, by these marriage (and more) Zeus acquires Wisdom and Counsel, authority and dominion and finally control over immortality which for the gods is “life itself”.

[i] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Page 10 of the electronic version.

[ii] Robert Graves, The Greek Myths, Page 11 of the electronic version.

[iii] (Hesiod’s Cosmos, Jenny Strauss Clay, Page 23)

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

TFBT: The Seven Wives of Zeus II

Extinguishing Competitive Divine Lineages

“None of Charlemagne’s daughters ever married.  His biographer, Einhard, claimed that he loved his daughters so much he could not bear to part with them.  However, it is quite likely he knew that the marriage of his daughters could possibly weaken his imperial claims.”  Sarah Jane Bodell[i]  

Initially the greatest threat to Zeus reign was competing divine lineages. I suggest that Zeus’ choice of brides represents an effort to extinguish such.  

During the Titanomachy as before Oceanus and his children remained neutral in the wars of succession.  After the Titanomachy the bulk of the first and second generation male Titans were tossed into Tartarus. The children of the Titan Hyperion were struck with a passion for mortals.[ii] The lineage of the Titaness Phoebe and Titan Coeus dwindles down with their granddaughters Hecate and Artemis chosing eternal virginity and only Zeus’ and Leto’s son Apollo continuing the lineage

In order to consolidate power he weds the Titanesses Themis and Mnemosyne the solitary representatives of their lineages and Eurynome the Orphic creatrix.  (Thetis, is the Spartan creatrix.)

The Hellenistic Queen Arsinoe was wife and also sister of Ptolemy II Philadelphus, “and such unions were a strategy for consolidating power with in one family following the Egyptian model.”[iii]  

Rhea, mother to "wise Zeus, father of gods and men", “was subject in love to Cronus and bare splendid children.  The first was Hestia who chose eternal virginity, “Demeter and gold-shod Hera whom he wed “and strong Hades, pitiless in heart, who dwells under the earth,” where apparently the beds of the gods prove fruitless because Hades and his bride (Zeus’ daughter, Persephone) never have any universally recognized children. And finally “and the loud-crashing Earth-Shaker” (Theogony XXX)  That is to say the final divine bloodline on this list; Poseidon's.  In order to consolidate power in his own watery realm, Poseidon must conquer a list of water-goddesses, the Nereids. No other god has ever bed a Nereid because they are Pontides (descendants of ancient Pontus) and just as likely to produce monsters and godlings.  Hence Poseidon’s heir is Triton,  half god and half fish.

So, Zeus is able to consolidate power by;  extinguishing the Ancient Titan lineages with the tossing of the males into Tartarus, wedding into the surviving lineages wedding his Hyperionides cousins off to mortals, convincing female members of his household to remain virgins, marrying his sisters and tossing his brothers into realms where either reproduction is impossible or it produces only monsters.

[ii] (Apollodorus 1.27 & Metamorphoses 41.69).
[iii] (Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece, Nigel Wilson, Page 351

TFBT: The Seven Wives of Zeus

In Hesiod’s Theogony we read a list of seven goddesses. (886-923) Generally, referred to as the Seven Wives of Zeus.  Here it is; 

1.    886] Now Zeus, king of the gods, made Metis his wife first, and she was wisest among gods and mortal men. 

2.  901] Next he married bright Themis who bare the Horae (Hours), and Eunomia (Order), Dike (Justice), and blooming Eirene (Peace), who mind the works of mortal men, and the Moerae (Fates) to whom wise Zeus gave the greatest honour, Clotho, and Lachesis, and Atropos who give mortal men evil and good to have.

3) 907] And Eurynome, the daughter of Ocean, beautiful in form, bare him three fair-cheeked Charites (Graces), Aglaea, and Euphrosyne, and lovely Thaleia, from whose eyes as they glanced flowed love that unnerves the limbs: and beautiful is their glance beneath their brows.

4) [912] Also he came to the bed of all-nourishing Demeter, and she bare white-armed Persephone whom Aidoneus carried off from her mother; but wise Zeus gave her to him.

5) 915] And again, he loved Mnemosyne with the beautiful hair: and of her the nine gold-crowned Muses were born who delight in feasts and the pleasures of song.

6) [918] And Leto was joined in love with Zeus who holds the aegis, and bare Apollo and Artemis delighting in arrows, children lovely above all the sons of Heaven.

7)[921] Lastly, he made Hera his blooming wife: and she was joined in love with the king of gods and men, and brought forth Hebe and Ares and Eileithyia.

His possible eighth wife was the Nereid Thetis, but we will discuss her later.

As with everything else in Ancient Greek literature there must be some greater significance. Here are some thoughts;

Descending order of Threat from His Sons

I jokingly suggested over at the Kosmos Society that the list represents a descending order of affection for his wives;  based on Zeus and Hera’s notoriously rocky marriage.  But, I think we can see another descending order. 

 Zeus first hypothetical son would have hurled him from his throne.  (895-900). The next son on this list of legitimate spouses is Apollo, his heir-apparent and pretty viable threat;

 I will remember and not be unmindful of Apollo who shoots afar. As he goes through the house of Zeus, the gods tremble before him and all spring up from their seats when he draws near, as he bends his bright bow. “. HH to Apollo
 The last of his legitimate sons from the seventh marriage were little threat. One was lame and the other “Ar─ôs would have then perished had not fair Eeriboia…” (Iliad 5:389) Starving to death is a very ungodlike thing to do, neither of his final legitimate seems much of a threat to Zeus’ hegemony. 

So my first thought about the sequence of wives is that it represents an every decreasing level of threat to the security of Zeus' throne from his own sons.

Outline for the Seven Wives of Zeus 

Descending order of threat
Extinguishing Competing Lineages;
·      Explaining who they are based on Hesiod’s line up
·      Virginity within the Olympians article
·      Then discuss marriages
·      Hera’s Handmaidens
Co-opt Authorities, Powers and Dominions (per Graves)
Geo-political signifance?
Previous Husbands;
·      Eurynome and Ophion;
·      Hera and some Samoian river-god,
·      Thetis and Poros’ father
·      Themis and Prometheus’ father
*.  Demeter Iasion and Caramandor
·      Part of Ring composition with Metis?  Or
·      Start of a new cycle as Hesiod suggests for the 5 Ages of Man