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Author Topic: Rape in Greek Mythology  (Read 44335 times)
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« Reply #45: April 02, 2011, 08:01:01 am »

Not a major point for this discussion, but I have a real problem with statements like this. By what yardstick are they not 'exactly perfect'? It strikes me as the height of hubris for human beings to imagine that there preferences and limitted understanding represent some absolute definition of 'perfect'.

As they all seem to  change with time, apparently none are perfect (as any change to perfect results in being no longer perfect).
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« Reply #46: April 02, 2011, 01:15:46 pm »

What I'm finding from the discussion in this thread is that "a tendency to cavalierly rape women" may be an oversimplification. There are problems of translation, interpretation, cross-cultural disconnects, etc. And yet, I'm trying to balance that with my modern-day tendency to feel that there is *no* excuse for rape.

It's making my head spin a little at the moment!

Also displaying a tendancy to expect Gods to behave morally by human standards.  Much like with fairies, I'd think human morals simply don't apply to the Gods.
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« Reply #47: April 02, 2011, 07:15:41 pm »

Not a major point for this discussion, but I have a real problem with statements like this. By what yardstick are they not 'exactly perfect'? It strikes me as the height of hubris for human beings to imagine that there preferences and limitted understanding represent some absolute definition of 'perfect'.

I'm not saying that Gods aren't less powerful or not as good as humans, and I wasn't trying to be arrogant at all. I'm just noting that one reason many Gods appeal to me/many people is that They aren't lacking of emotion or lacking of...well, bad decision making, or anger, or lust, or anything like that. Does that make sense? I guess it depends on one's definition of perfect. For me, "perfect" tends to imply "complete goodness" or "without flaw"...but then, what we consider "flaws" is a very personal decision. In my opinion, a God that rapes is somewhat "flawed," because rape seems wrong to me. But that doesn't mean I don't recognize aspects of a more positive or powerful nature about a God that rapes, or turn away from Him or Her.

"Perfect" is a tricky word to use, as everyone's definition of "perfect" (like "flawed") is different...so I'm sorry if I was confusing, or said something you disliked...we are all entitled to different beliefs, after all. You're right that this topic isn't exactly the point of this particular discussion, though...guess I shouldn't have brought it up in such a way ^_^;;
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« Reply #48: April 02, 2011, 07:23:15 pm »

I agree that the flawed gods--and they nearly all are, in some way--are more interesting. In many instances the flaws are not only revealing of character, but serve to teach lessons, in their own way, that can be quite instructive.

And upon further reflection, it's not so much the god who rapes that presents an insurmountable hurdle for me (a big one, but not insurmountable). It's the myth itself: The treatment of the rape, the values communicated in the myth's structure, its telling, the rape's consequences. Looking back, I can see that clearly in the "what if it were a movie" example I gave a few posts ago. A movie that took an offensive approach to rape would royally piss me off.

Similarly, a myth that takes an offensive approach to rape pisses me off, regardless of what I think of the god who rapes.


Fair enough, I see what you mean. The fact that the authors/recorders of the myths would include those kinds of details/positions on rape is a bit disturbing, despite all I have said about interpretation. A God might rape, but one does not have to actively support that in myth or describe it endlessly. I can see why that might annoy you, or anyone.
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« Reply #49: April 02, 2011, 10:51:52 pm »

Could I ask, in your cosmology, how humans came about?

Per my metaphysical view, all life on Earth--humans included--are the children of the earth mother and the sky father, to boil those gods down to their most simplified terms.

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(Also I should be the one apologising for drift - it's your thread!  Smiley)

I don't think there's any ownership of threads around here; they go where they go!
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« Reply #50: April 03, 2011, 05:05:39 am »

I'm not saying that Gods aren't less powerful or not as good as humans, and I wasn't trying to be arrogant at all.

I didn't mean to imply that you were coming across as arrogant and am sorry if it seemed that way Smiley

Quote
I'm just noting that one reason many Gods appeal to me/many people is that They aren't lacking of emotion or lacking of...well, bad decision making, or anger, or lust, or anything like that. Does that make sense? I guess it depends on one's definition of perfect. For me, "perfect" tends to imply "complete goodness" or "without flaw"...but then, what we consider "flaws" is a very personal decision.

My point is more that when we say that deities are flawed, or are imperfect, it seems to me tht we place ourselves above them; that we presume to judge them. I'm really not sure that we have a sound basis from which to do that. If we do, then I'm really not sure I understand why we would worship them, or otherwise interact with them, at all. After all, if we already know and understand better than they, then what do they have to offer us, beyond some sort of companionship?

Quote
In my opinion, a God that rapes is somewhat "flawed," because rape seems wrong to me. But that doesn't mean I don't recognize aspects of a more positive or powerful nature about a God that rapes, or turn away from Him or Her.

For me, the occurance of things in the teaching stories and myths that I have a knee-jerk reaction against is a prompt to better understand those things. It invites me to reassess them and to put asside aspects of that knee-jerk reaction in favour of the better understanding that religion and the deities are able to offer me.

Quote
"Perfect" is a tricky word to use, as everyone's definition of "perfect" (like "flawed") is different...so I'm sorry if I was confusing, or said something you disliked...we are all entitled to different beliefs, after all. You're right that this topic isn't exactly the point of this particular discussion, though...guess I shouldn't have brought it up in such a way ^_^;;

You said nothing that I disilked and I am aware that we don't need to agree (although, it is important to me, when we don't agree, to understand exactly what it is that we do not agree on and why we don't agree on it). Your post was more just one of many instances where people pass judgement on deities and that always leaves me thinking "on what basis does a human presume to judge the deities" and to wonder if there can be any beneficial point in doing so. I just don't feel that deities are sufficiently wtihin my league that I could even begin to judge them, let alone find them wanting in some way. I used the word 'hubris' because my understanding of it is that it refers precisely to judging the gods by human standards, not to imply that you were arrogant or some such.
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« Reply #51: April 03, 2011, 07:53:33 am »

My point is more that when we say that deities are flawed, or are imperfect, it seems to me tht we place ourselves above them; that we presume to judge them. I'm really not sure that we have a sound basis from which to do that. If we do, then I'm really not sure I understand why we would worship them, or otherwise interact with them, at all. After all, if we already know and understand better than they, then what do they have to offer us, beyond some sort of companionship?

Recognizing a flaw is not necessarily judgement as such, though.  It isn't a claim that one knows better than the gods; it isn't a claim that one can do better than the Gods.  I do believe it's important to be respectful of the Gods, but I see it in rather the same way I see debate here at TC:  it is possible to be respectful without agreeing, and it is possible to disagree without claiming an objectively superior position.
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« Reply #52: April 03, 2011, 08:10:51 am »

For me, the occurance of things in the teaching stories and myths that I have a knee-jerk reaction against is a prompt to better understand those things. It invites me to reassess them and to put asside aspects of that knee-jerk reaction in favour of the better understanding that religion and the deities are able to offer me.

What is the better understanding you derive from this myth?
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« Reply #53: April 03, 2011, 03:09:06 pm »

I didn't mean to imply that you were coming across as arrogant and am sorry if it seemed that way :)


Well, good, ok haha I'm glad :)

My point is more that when we say that deities are flawed, or are imperfect, it seems to me tht we place ourselves above them; that we presume to judge them. I'm really not sure that we have a sound basis from which to do that. If we do, then I'm really not sure I understand why we would worship them, or otherwise interact with them, at all. After all, if we already know and understand better than they, then what do they have to offer us, beyond some sort of companionship?


I partly worship for companionship, actually. Pantheons are like families to me...families that embody concepts (Love, War, etc.) or natural powers (like the Ocean, or Storms, or The Earth) that are beyond what any human could represent or personify, but the Deities Themselves are enough like humans that it's not impossible to forge relationships with Them, or feel as if They too have emotions, feelings, etc. Does that make sense?

I guess it just depends on how you view Deity...I tend to view Deity as human-like, but in some way that (perhaps I will never fully understand) is so much more than human-like. I mean, in part, Deities exist to explain things - why Love exists, why Death exists, etc. These concepts are so beyond humanity, but that doesn't mean the Deities that represent or control them can't "act human" sometimes...and it's more those acts that I judge (as I would any "human-like" act), than the God itself. So, I guess I should have clarified...it's more the acts of Deities that I judge...and I guess it's a personal thing, but I don't necessarily see that as "putting myself above that Deity," I see it more as recognizing a difference between the act and what I feel is "right" or in agreement with my understanding of something.


For me, the occurance of things in the teaching stories and myths that I have a knee-jerk reaction against is a prompt to better understand those things. It invites me to reassess them and to put asside aspects of that knee-jerk reaction in favour of the better understanding that religion and the deities are able to offer me.


Oh, same! I just think that it's ok to regard certain actions of Gods in myths and stories as "flawed" or upsetting in some way. Like, it's ok to think: Hey, that's awful, why would a God do that? (which, for me, would make me then think, "Guess He, or She, isn't perfect"...but then, I explained my definition of "perfect"...)

I'm a big fan of interpretation!


You said nothing that I disilked and I am aware that we don't need to agree (although, it is important to me, when we don't agree, to understand exactly what it is that we do not agree on and why we don't agree on it). Your post was more just one of many instances where people pass judgement on deities and that always leaves me thinking "on what basis does a human presume to judge the deities" and to wonder if there can be any beneficial point in doing so. I just don't feel that deities are sufficiently wtihin my league that I could even begin to judge them, let alone find them wanting in some way. I used the word 'hubris' because my understanding of it is that it refers precisely to judging the gods by human standards, not to imply that you were arrogant or some such.


Meh, maybe I'm just sensitive, or bad at "reading emotion" in online texts?  That's sometimes why I can't tell like from dislike, etc. Anyway, maybe we shouldn't judge Gods, but many of us do, and for me, that's ok...I usually use judgment to help myself better understand a God, or more often, the act of a God. Of course, everybody does it differently.
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« Reply #54: April 03, 2011, 09:13:52 pm »

Pantheons are like families to me...families that embody concepts (Love, War, etc.) or natural powers (like the Ocean, or Storms, or The Earth) that are beyond what any human could represent or personify, but the Deities Themselves are enough like humans that it's not impossible to forge relationships with Them, or feel as if They too have emotions, feelings, etc. Does that make sense?


It does to me. My view is similar, though from a slightly different angle: There are forces (concepts, natural powers) that defy human comprehension--they're just too big for us to fully grasp--but by personifying them, we can begin to grapple with these ideas and at least get a bit of a handle on them. The gods and their myths are metaphors that give us some sense of our relationship to these forces. It's an imperfect understanding, but it's a glimpse nonetheless.
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« Reply #55: April 04, 2011, 03:31:15 am »

Recognizing a flaw is not necessarily judgement as such, though.  It isn't a claim that one knows better than the gods; it isn't a claim that one can do better than the Gods.  I do believe it's important to be respectful of the Gods, but I see it in rather the same way I see debate here at TC:  it is possible to be respectful without agreeing, and it is possible to disagree without claiming an objectively superior position.

Firstly, I hope I haven't come across as claiming an objectively superior position, as that was not my intent and is not how I feel or understand the situation. I"m just saying that for me to say that a deity is 'flawed' is inherrently passing a judgement, by definition so to speak. I realise that not everyone views it this way and that there is no reason that they should.
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« Reply #56: April 04, 2011, 03:37:47 am »

What is the better understanding you derive from this myth?

Without actually having reflected heavily on any particular rape myth, but in the spirit of illustrating the approach that works for me...

I could view rape as being universally evil <full stop> non-negotiable. That's a very common position and it allows me to effectively deal with instances of rape in the abstract. For my personal experience of rape, it would not have been a very beneficial position, nor one that offered strength or healing. Alternatively, I can look to the myths and see that even deities rape and are raped. I can use that to understand that rape is a part of lifesometimes, that it can be an overpowering impulse that takes control of even the best of individuals at times, that it can happen to people who are strong and good and have great things to offer the world and their community, that it can be a source of strength and that one can come back from rape (whether as a rapist, or one who has been raped). It doesn't have to make one a victim, it doesn't have to forever sully you.

I don't want to belabour my point. I'm sure you get the picture. I'm not saying it's the only way, but for me it is an extremely effective way that takes me outside my preconceptions and helps to make the myths genuine sources of wisdom and teaching.
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« Reply #57: April 04, 2011, 03:43:25 am »

...maybe we shouldn't judge Gods, but many of us do, and for me, that's ok...I usually use judgment to help myself better understand a God, or more often, the act of a God. Of course, everybody does it differently.

And so they should Smiley I really don't mean to say that you (or anyone) shouldn't judge their deities. I was just expressing the sense of frission that I experience when other people do, as it's a very foreign thing for me. Please understand though, I really don't see myself as having ANY right to try and dictate how others should interact with their deities. I am aware of the fact that accusations of hubris have often been used as a means of viciously attacking others and of raising oneself artificially above others. I don't use it that way, but the fact that it does get used that way isn't enough to stop me using it all together; that just means the arsehats who do 'win', which I won't have Cheesy
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« Reply #58: April 04, 2011, 05:58:51 am »

Firstly, I hope I haven't come across as claiming an objectively superior position,

You haven't.  I only mentioned claiming an objectively superior position because you seemed to be saying that people who say they think the gods are flawed are claiming to have objectively superior positions to the gods they're talking about.  I don't understand why that would be true, why someone couldn't just say "I don't think that what that deity did is good" without necessarily meaning "...and I know better than them."
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« Reply #59: April 04, 2011, 12:32:00 pm »

I really don't mean to say that you (or anyone) shouldn't judge their deities. I was just expressing the sense of frission that I experience when other people do, as it's a very foreign thing for me. Please understand though, I really don't see myself as having ANY right to try and dictate how others should interact with their deities.

Oh, don't worry, you aren't coming off as "dictating" - you're just expressing an opinion, like the rest of us. I'm just glad we can discuss various viewpoints: it's interesting to see how other people think. What you might find totally foreign, someone else might totally agree with, and that's really interesting to me. I'm glad places like this exist for us to happily debate our points, and learn new things about how people other than ourselves think. :)
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