Family Values: The Importance of Parental Love and Care

Categories: Family values

A parent's love is unwavering and unconditional. It knows no bounds because it is limitless and everlasting. This unshakable love a parent has for their child was evident in Greek culture. They strongly believed that retaining the structure and unity of the family was essential and an absolute must. To the Greeks, family was a vital aspect of their society and retaining a strong family bond was crucial. Even in adulthood, their loyalty and love towards their children was absolute. This importance of family love is demonstrated in several Ancient Greek Myths.

Mythological figures such as King Priam, The Goddess Demeter, and The Goddess Venus were prime examples of parents whose love knew no bounds. Through these myths, we learn that the Greeks were individuals who possess strong family values as well as unwavering loyalty towards their children.

To begin, King Priam is an individual who possesses strong family values and demonstrates his unwavering loyalty towards his son, Hector in Homer's The Iliad.

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During the Trojan War, Hector proves himself to be a formidable warrior and valiant man beloved by Troy. Due to several of his heroic accomplishments in battle, King Priam held his son in high regard and admired him greatly. In Priam’s eyes, there was no greater hero than his son and because of this, his love for Hector was indescribable. After Hector dies at the hands of Achilies, his father undergoes a deep depression; he wants nothing more than to retrieve his son's corpse from the Greeks.

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Due to his loyalty towards the Gods, Zeus takes pity on Priam and sends the Goddess Iris to aid him in his troubles. Iris informs him that to retrieve Hector’s body, he must appease to Achilies by giving him a carriage of Troy’s finest gifts. Although his family is opposed to this idea, Priam states,

“I will go. My mind’s made up. Don’t hold me back. And don’t go flying off on your own across the halls, a bird of evil omen-you can’t dissuade me now. If someone else had command me, some mortal man, some prophet staring into the smoke, some priest, I’d call it a lie and turn my back upon it. Not now. I heard her voice with my own ears, I looked straight at the goddess, face-to-face. So I am going-her message must not come to nothing. And if it is my fate to die by the beaked ships of Achaeans armed in bronze, then die I shall. Let Achilies cut me down straightway once I’ve caught my son in my arms and wept my fill.” (Fagles 595-596)

This passage reveals Priam’s devotion towards his son Hector. He is firm in his decision and does not hesitate to make the necessary preparations in order to retrieve his son’s body. Priam is aware that his willingness to visit and appease to Achilles indangers not only himself but his kingdom. If he is murdered, his death will not only be in vain but his entire country will be open to vulnerability, potentially leaving them to suffer by the hands of the Achaeans. However, Priam disregards this potential danger and makes it a priority to retrieve his son and conduct a proper funeral for him. He is ready to die and potentially leave his people without a King, if it means that he is able to hold his son momentarily. Priam’s love knows no bounds when it comes to Hector. The bold initiative he takes to appease to Achilies demonstrates the strong family values he possesses and the loyalty he has towards Hector. Subsequently, Priam’s loyalty towards his son is demonstrated when he meets with Achilies to plead for his body. Priam arrives at the Greek campsite and searches for Achilles' tent. Once he found Achilies, he immediately fell to his knees and began to plead for his son. To Achilies, Priam exclaims, “But one, one was left to me, to guard my walls, my people- the one you killed the other day, defending his fatherland, my Hector! It’s all for him I’ve come to the ships now, to win him back from you- I bring a priceless ransom. Revere the gods, Achilies! Pity me in my own right, remember your own father! I deserve more pity… I have endured what no one on earth has done before- I put to my lips the hands of the man who killed my son.” (Fagles 604-605)

This passage reveals Priam’s desperation to retrieve Hector. He disregards the hatred he feels towards Achilies, swallows his pride, and begs for his son. He grasps the knees of his enemy and kisses his hands; the same hands that murdered his beloved Hector. In the Iliad, Priam is described as a wise and great king who ruled over Troy and was beloved by his people. However, in this moment, he is not seen as a great king but as a grieving father. This reveals the intense paternal love Priam feels towards his son. He is willing to set aside his dignity and appease the man who brutally and dishonorably murdered Hector. Priam is a prime example of how a parent will go the extra mile for their children despite the circumstances.

In addition, Demeter is a mother who possesses strong family values and demonstrates her unwavering loyalty towards her daughter, Persophone in The Homeric Hymn to Demeter. Persphone is portrayed as beautiful yet naive Goddess. She is loved and cared for by her mother, The Goddess Demeter. However, Persphone is abducted and taken to the underworld unwillingly by Hades. Demeter overhears her daughter’s cry of fear and falls into a state of panic. Realizing that Persphone is nowhere to be found on Earth, she becomes enraged and eventually depressed. In the text it states, “The high hills echoed her cry and the depths of the sea, and her mother heard it. She sped like a bird over sea and land seeking her daughter. But no one would tell her the truth, “no man nor God, nor any sure messenger from the birds”. Nine days Demeter wandered, and all that time she would not taste of ambrosia or put sweet nectar to her lips.” (pg.55-56 Hamilton) This passage reveals Demeter’s concern for Persphone’s well-being. Demeter is in absolute disarray and shock when she discovers that her daughter has gone missing under mysterious circumstances. She becomes frustrated and eventually falls into a state of grief and refuses to eat or drink. This isolation and rejection of food is Demeter’s way of grieving the absence of her daughter. Persphone’s abduction takes such a negative toll on her that she allows herself to suffer until her daughter's whereabouts are known. Demeter cannot even fathom the loss of her daughter, thus demonstrating her overwhelming love for Persphone. In addition, Demeter’s loyalty towards Persphone is demonstrated when she stops all vegetation on Earth from growing. Demeter is infuriated at the Gods as well as mortals. She becomes frustrated that she has yet to see Persphone and feels as though Persphones abduction has not been taken seriously. Demeter grows cruel and ultimately decides to stop plants from growing on Earth. This causes hardships for mankind and worries the Gods who observe this disaster from Mount Olympus. In the text, it reveals,

“The cruelest of years did the goddess ordain for men on the nourishing earth. No seed sprouted in the rich soil, for bright-crowned Demeter lay hidden; Oxen in vain dragged the bent plows through the fields, and white barely was scattered without avail on the ground. By terrible famine she would have destroyed the whole race of men…No would could move her stubborn heart, and she nursed her wrath and, unyielding, rejected their offers. Never, she said, would she set foot on fragrant Olympus or send forth the fruits of the earth in their season until she had seen with her own eyes her fair-faced young daughter.” (Homeric Hymn to Demeter 10)

This passage demonstrates a mother's wrath as well as a woman's scorn. In addition to the loss of her daughter, Demeter feels as though she has been disrespected by mortals as well as the Gods. The mortals questioned her intentions and the Gods had not taken her daughter’s abduction serious. Infuriated, she decides to stop the growth of plants which ultimately causes famine and extreme hardships. In doing so, this allows her to be taken more seriously so that Persphone’s predicament can be looked into. She claims that she will not stop until she has seen her daughter, Persphone with her own eyes. This shows the extreme lengths in which Demeter is willing to go to. She is prepared to jeopardize the living conditions of mankind if it ensures that her daughter’s situation will be taken more seriously and ultimately be reunited with her.

Lastly, Venus is a mother who possesses strong family values and demonstrates her unwavering loyalty towards her son Aneas in Virgil's Aeneid and Homer’s The Iliad. Throughout Aeneas’ travels, Venus has kept a watchful eye on her son and ensured his safety despite Juno’s numerous attempts to sabotage him in his attempt to journey to Hesperia. After escaping a storm, Aeneas finds himself on Carthage, an island near the North Coast of Africa. It was ruled by an alluring enchantress named Dido. With the help of Cupid, Aeneas and Dido fall in love with each other. Although they did not marry, Aeneas was devoted to Dido, much to Juno’s satisfaction. The idea of sailing to Hesperia became less and less important to Aeneas for he was blinded by his love for Dido.Venus fears that her son may lose focus of his destiny and seeks Zeus’ aid. In the text it states,

“Juno’s plan was to have the two fall in love with each other and so divert Aeneas from Italy and induce him to settle down with Dido. It would have been a good plan if it had not been for Venus. She suspected what was in Juno’s mind, and was determined to block it. She was quite willing to have Dido fall in love with Aeneas, so that no harm could come to him in Carthage; but she intended to see to it that his feeling for Dido should be no more than entire willingness to take anything she tried to give; by no means such as to interfere in the least with his sailing away to Italy whenever that seemed best. At this juncture she went to Olypmus to talk to Jupiter.” (325-326 Hamilton)

This text reveals Venus’ concern in regards to her son’s future. Venus so desperately wants her son to fulfill his destiny and become the great ruler that he is prophesied to be. Venus, keeping in mind Aeneas’ safety, instructs her son Cupid to make Aeneas and Dido fall madly in love with one another. Unfortunately for Aeneas, the Goddess Juno still holds resentment towards him and decides to derail his plans at any given opportunity. She hopes this newfound love will blind him and cause him to disregard his journey to Hesperia. Fortunately for Aeneas, his mother Venus knows of Juno’s plans and protects him from her meddling. Although bold, she seeks help from Zeus, Hera’s husband and begs him to keep Juno from obstructing Aeneas’ plan. This demonstrates Aphrodites loyalty towards her son. She was told that her son would be the ancestor of a great race that would someday rule the world. Venus loves her son far too much to allow Juno to jeopardize the great things Aeneas is meant to accomplish. Furthermore, Venus’s loyalty towards Aeneas is demonstrated when she tries to protect him from Diomedes in the Trojan war. Diomendes was seen second in terms of strength to Achilles on the Greek side of the war. Similarly to Diomedes, Aeneas was deemed second in terms of strength to Hector on the Trojan side. The two formidable warriors eventually faced each other in battle. However, Aeneas almost falls victim to Diomendes’ sword which nearly results in his death. Venus notices that her son is in trouble and rushes to his aid. In the text, it states,

“On the Greek side, with Achilies gone, the two greatest champions were Ajax and Diomendes. They fought gloriously that day and many a Trojan lay on his face in the dust before them. The best and bravest next to Hector, the Prince Aeneas, came near to death at Diomedes' hands. He was of more than royal blood; his mother was Aprodite herself, and when Diomendes wounded him she hastened down to the battlefield to save him. She lifted him in her soft arms, but Diomendes knowing she was a coward goddess, not one of those who like Athena are masters where warriors fight, leaped towards her and wounded her hand.” ( Hamilton 264)

This passage demonstrates Venus’ motherly instinct when it comes to protecting her son. Venus is the Goddess of all things related to Love. She is not a God skilled in the art of battle or war. However, she rushes to her sons aid without hesitation despite her inability to fight. Venus did what any mother would do; protect their child when they are faced with danger thus risking your own safety in the process. Although she was unsuccessful in protecting Aeneas, she had all good intentions. She did not have to protect her son for there were several Gods who wanted the Trojans to win and would ultimately come to Aeneas’ aid (much like Apollo). However, this did not matter to Venus. Her son’s safety was of great importance to her thus demonstrating her love towards him.

All in all, through these myths, we learn that the Greeks were individuals who possess strong family values as well as unwavering loyalty towards their children. Mythological figures such as King Priam, The Goddess Demeter, and The Goddess Venus were prime examples of parents whose love knew no bounds. The great measures they went for their children were formidable as it was respectable. However, it was natural to them for it is apart of the Greek culture. The importance of family is so deeply embedded in them that they did not see the protecting of their kids as a task but rather a necessity.

Updated: Feb 02, 2024
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Family Values: The Importance of Parental Love and Care. (2024, Feb 03). Retrieved from

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