Theogony: Greek Mythology and Zeus
Theogony: Greek Mythology and Zeus
Theogony is all about anything of the “ birth of the gods” which is what the title means. In this early creation-time, the gods are synonymous with the universe and the order of the universe. I think that Hesiod’s Theogony is a large-scale synthesis of Greek traditions concerning the gods and it organized as a narrative that tells about the origin of the cosmos and about the gods that shaped cosmos. Also, the gods behave in a very disorderly fashion throughout the Theogony.
The poem presents the creation of the gods and the universe and the struggle between fathers and sons and between male force and female birth. Hesiod shows a clear bias for the eventual winner of the fathers-sons struggle, the male sky-god Zeus, and a bias for the male against the female. Hesiod distorts parts of some stories in order to make Zeus and the male powers look good and to make some of the female powers focused around the natural cycle of birth and death look bad.
On the other hand, Hesiod’s Theogony delivers to us the traditional stories of the Greek gods as well as ancient Greek conceptions of the world. I think that the section of Prometheus is the particular well known aspect of the Theogony, the section that tells the tale of Prometheus; it is able to enhance other stories and conceptions. The story of Prometheus shows us two purposes in Hesiod’s Theogony. First, it solidifies Zeus’s position as king of the gods, providing one of the first characterizations of his temperament.
Second, it serves as a mode of explanation for those evils in the world which plague mankind. Hesiod’s description of Zeus is the admiration for the god’s power, which makes it ultimately more effective when we finally realize that Zeus was outsmarted by Prometheus.
The organizational tools implemented by Hesiod in the delivery of the story of Prometheus set us up for a more tangible comprehension of the outcome. In lines 523-28, Hesiod presents the ultimate fate of Prometheus, i. e. the individualized punishment for his actions, and then follows with a detailed description of the early stages of his conflict with Zeus.
In these early stages, the audience begins to comprehend Zeus’s attitudes and quick temper, achieving a slightly better understanding of Prometheus’s punishment; clearly it is the result of Zeus’s vengeful anger. Finally, Hesiod reveals the missing section of the story of Prometheus: “Thus Zeus, angry, whose wisdom never wears out…” (Hesiod 563) became infuriated at being outwitted by the son of Iapetos, who delivered fire to mortals.
The audience, after being acquainted with the short temper of Zeus and his infinite wisdom as well as the eternal effects of his punishment, achieves an understanding of the causality of this anger and ultimately, a better understanding of Zeus the god. In fact, the true value of the tale of Prometheus lies in its ability to characterize Zeus as the furious king of the gods and its ability to produce a cause for the ills in the world. Prometheus was an intermediary himself, between gods and men, attempting to aid human beings by providing them with fire and treating them with general favoritism.
The story of Prometheus acts as simply a means by which certain elaborations and explanations can be made. Just as Prometheus, son of Iapetos provides fire to man, Hesiod’s tale of Prometheus provides a deeper comprehension of the attitudes of Zeus, king of the gods, and an acceptable cause for the evils that plague mankind. Prometheus has no value in himself; even his rescue by Herakles was achieved for the “glory of Theban-born Herakles”. Prometheus’s identity is entirely dependent on Zeus’s punishment delivered to mankind as a result and in turn, the explanation of these two things is entirely dependent on Prometheus.