From the Blog

Rama is the hero that gets called to adventure.  He is called to adventure more than once in his stories, the first being called to celebrate a sacrifice which turns into fighting off Titans at the age of 12 which he is successful.  Through a jealous maiden of Rama’s “aunt” (I’ll call her his aunt even though she’s not related to his mother) Queen Kaikeyi, Rama is denied his rightful crown and subsequent throne and is sent into exhile for 14 years in the forest.  He loses his father over this (dies from guilt) and is asked to return to the crown but refuses to dishonor his father’s original request and continues to carry on his 14 year exhile.  A third call to adventure occurs when his wife, Sita, is captured by the trickster Ravana who tries to make her one of his wives.

Rama is aided on his quest by many supernatural beings.  He is given a celestial bow, two inexhaustible quivers and a sword from the sage Agastya.  Rama is then aided by a giant eagle by the name of Jatayu who is tasked with keeping watch over Sita while Rama and his brother hunt for the golden deer.  Little did they know the golden deer was a distraction so that Ravana could kidnap Sita and try to make her one of his many wives.  Jatayu’s elder brother, a vulture by the name of Sampati told of Sita’s wherabouts.  A chief of monkeys by the name of Hanuman gave the most assistance of locating Sita and bringing Rama and his brother to her rescue.  Finally, Rama received aid in fighting Ravana by Ravana’s brother Vibhishana who advised Ravan to give up Sita and spare destruction of Lanka which his brother Ravana did not like and punished him for so Vibhishana sought refuge with Rama’s camp in return, Vibhishana helped Rama in defeating Ravana.

The atonement, or in this story, the Dharma happens at first when King Dasartha, Rama’s father, appears from his heavenly abode asking Sita to forgive Rama for his transgression (not believing she stayed faithful in captivity) in order to preserve Dharma.  In return, Rama begs Dasartha to give his blessings to Kaikeyi and Bharata.  Rama also asks Indra, the celestial chief, to restore the life of the monkeys who had been killed in war.

 

Joseph Campbell, a famous teacher of mythology from the handout we were given in class said that he “believes that the hero myth is really written about every human being: each of us is the hero struggling to accomplish his adventure.”  ” Campbell helps show that the adventure of the hero involves coming to terms with many conflicting feelings.”  I admit that I’m late on the badwagon but I recently started watching the TV series by ABC called Alias which starred Jennifer Garner in the early 2000′s.  The story is about Sydney Bristow, a college student by day and an international spy by night, trained for espionage and self-defense.  Sydney’s journey began when she inadvertantly got her fiancee killed because she had told him the truth about what she did for a living.

She quickly learns that she cannot trust anyone and in order to gain her freedom from her current employer, she goes even more undercover and becomes a double agent – her call to adventure.  Now her rode of trials begins and gets more complicated as she tries to gain freedom and control of her own life while playing both sides and trying to make sense of the world she once thought she new.  Who is the good guy and who is the bad guy?  Which of the sides that she works for is the right side?  Which one will end up killing her in the end?  Is her father savior or sin?  What about her mother and her friends?  Her life becomes a roller coaster one show after the other and she is the heroine chosen to make sense of it all.  Her return at the end (which I have not seen yet since I haven’t finished the series but saw bits and pieces while researching for this paper) is inner peace.  She finally finds her answers and everything that she has worked so hard to achieve…her freedom.

We understand human creation between a man and a woman.  We know the story, birds and the bees and all.  We even “understand” creation by God.  A simple flick of the wrist, finger point, or magical “poof” and people, places and things just appear.  At least that was my understanding when I learned about Earth’s creation as a kid.  I never, in my wildest dreams, thought for a moment that the magical story of God’s Creation of the Earth could be anything but quick, easy and most of all…painless.

It wasn’t until I chose to research the birth of Athena that I realized I had blinders on all this time.  I never thought outside the box about how creation could be anything different.  It never dawned on me to bring the concept down to the level of reality.  The book for my english class briefly touches upon the birth of Athena and holds true to the simple/quick/painless act that he just simply created her out of his own mind.  The story made it seem as if he intended all along to create this feminine warrior.  To me, that meant that he dreamed her up and again, “poof” she had appeared.  Easy breezy.

The more I researched, however, the more I came to realize how far from my first perception I actually was.  Through the research, it was revealed that Athena’s creation was more on the level of reality than I had imagined.  The pain is excruciatingly real and this is the first time I’ve seen a God’s creation to be similar to what a woman would go through while giving birth (in a sense).  Zeus went through real pain when Athena was created and it seems it happened by accident and not on purpose as I was earlier lead to believe.

Vis consili expers Mole ruit sua.  (“Strength without wisdom falls by its own weight”)

The story I finally came upon goes like this:  Zeus was originally married to Metis, Goddess of Wisdom, his first wife, who bore a child (it is not clear if it’s Zeus’s but we can only guess).  Zeus receives advice from Earth and Heaven that he must swallow Metis and child to avoid the child taking over his throne.  After Metis is swallowed, Zeus begins experiencing horrible headaches.  Once inside his belly, Metis gives birth to Athena and provides her with the armor.  Hephaestus (also Zeus’s child by wife Hera) was near Zeus during his time of agony and aided in the birth of Athena by striking Zeus in the head with an axe which allowed Athena to spring forth, full-grown and fully armed.  Does this suggest that Athena’s half brother was Zeus’s midwife?

I found a funny video that adds a nice flavor to my blog this week titled The Birth of Athena for Dummies.  At the end, I think John, the film editor, meant to say that Athena’s owl was sacred and not scared.  Either way, enjoy.

The first story in our readings appropriately matches our blog assignment with the deadline due near Valentine’s Day.  Coincidence?  LOVE is the main theme as well as character.  It all starts with  Psyche who seems to be cursed with good looks.  She attracts a lot of attention for a mere mortal (even though she is the daughter of a king) but yet, no man wants to stay and make her theirs.  They end up marrying other women and she remains alone and unhappy worrying her father.  She inadvertantly catches the attention of Venus who becomes jealous that a mere mortal is stealing away HER attention, and sets out to destroy Psyche by convincing her son, Cupid, to make Psyche fall in love with the ugliest most hated creature.  But when Cupid laid eyes upon Psyche, he himself was enamoured and longed to make her his.  After vying for Apollo’s help, the Oracle convinced the father king to instruct Psyche to a mountain top and await her husband the snake.  She dutifuly followed the instructions and ended up not sacrificing herself but becoming a wife and living in a palace made for the gods.  She was never allowed to see her husband, felt bad for her mourning sisters, begging to be allowed to see them and comfort them.  Poor Psyche, her heart was bigger than her brain.  Her sisters became evil with jealousy, convinced her to bring a lamp to bed to see what sort of monster she was married to and then stab him with a dagger (why was this such a popular theme back in the day?  Killing husbands with daggars.).  After witnessing his beauty and losing total control, she accidentally spills oil from the lamp on him, burning and wakening him.  After seeing the light, he sees she has betrayed his trust and runs away without saying a word to her.  She begins to try and prove her love for him by chasing after him.  Psyche finally comes to the conclusion that she must find his mother, Venus, and appease to her good will to see if she can get near to Cupid again.  Awkward!  After Venus fails in her attempts to destroy Psyche, she finally realizes that the girl would be better off taking care of her son, being busy making babies and staying out of HER limelight so she could go back to being adored by the humans.

Wow!  After reading this amazing story, I have so many emotions.  Compassion for Psyche, hatred at her sisters for being so jealous and becoming so evil, longing for Cupid to give her another chance, and anger with Venus for being so cruel.  Finally relief that all seems to work out in the end.  It’s nice to see that for someone who has so much control over the emotion LOVE, that he himself falls under the control of it.  Even he is not safe from this emotion of strong affection.  Very refreshing to see (in this sense) a God humanized in a good way, even if the story is still dark and dangerous.  The main lesson I got from the end of the story is a positive one.  Love prevails.