Tuesday, March 6, 2012


On the opposite side lies malevolence, the desire to do wrong or harm to others.


The ancients saw many forms of malevolence in the world. They believed in things like magical charms, curses, and spirits that sought vengeance for wrong done to them. The ancients also believed that the Gods could act in ways that would seem malevolent to us. They could punish us, sometimes for great misdeeds, like the killing of a parent, or for small things, like not offering the proper respect to their temples. But the malevolence of the Gods, if we choose to even call it that, is not one based in evil. The Gods did not act out of hatred toward us, though one could argue the myths of the persecution of the wives of Zeus by his divine wife Hera are filled with hatred, they fall into a different category of myth than I am discussing here, because one could argue that the many wives of Zeus, the mortal and divine women he impregnated all over creation, were mythologically linked to Hera herself, aspects of her, but that is a discussion for the future I think.


When Artemis changes Actaeon into a stag, she does not kill him, she offers him the ability to survive. When Semele foolishly asks Zeus to see him in his divine form (naked, if you will) he warns her, begs her almost, to ask for something else, anything else, before he finally acquiesces and kills her in the process. When Arachne challenges Athena, she does so knowing there is a price, a price she is willing to pay. Humanity makes bad choices, and the Gods make the price clear. Failure can bring you misery, but failure to try, to seek, to explore the possibilities is part of who and what we are.


We humans, however, have a tendency to lay blame. On each other, on the Gods, on nature itself, and seldom do we seem to take responsibility for one particular thing, that we are creatures of free will and we choose to take these risks that sometimes bring us misery and misfortune. The Gods merely give us opportunity, and perhaps shine a light in the right way from time to time, but what the Gods think is the right path and what you may perceive as the right path are different things. The Gods do, after all, have a vast point of view not limited by space and time (meaning not limited to aging and mortality) and so that path that brought you misery yesterday may be the path you needed to take, the lessons you needed to learn in order to become something great tomorrow.


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