Getting Over the Greeks

As I mentioned in the last post, I am doing a bit of introspection about why I bother to write here (this blog and this site more generally).

Nemesis, by Rick BerryThe answer is that I wanted to know about women in Greek myths. Duh. But, really, that’s it. I mean, I wanted to know, not just their names, but why they were interesting.

I wanted to understand why some Goddesses, like Hemera, Gaia,  and Amphictyonis were relatively simple personifications of their names when others, like say, Persephone, have names, backgrounds, and myths so deeply ensconced in the past that we may never know what the deities represented.

I wanted to understand why the Greeks, so very long ago, had Great Goddesses like Demeter when we modern people, so much further along towards enlightenment (yes, I was a Hegelian youngster), didn’t even write spunky heroines that weren’t relying on men into movies!

And, perhaps most of all, I was hungry for stories of women that I could be proud to tell. Stories imbued with the rich respect of our mythical ancestors, but stories that I could make mine, that could make me stronger, that could root me.

I realize, now, that, although I still long for such things, I have given up on finding them in ancient Greek myth.

The first blow came when I fully appreciated that, in fact, things weren’t as feminist as they appeared. I learned that, while visibility is definitely a powerful thing, being visibly powerless isn’t nearly so exciting. I also discovered, somewhere along the way, to reject a progressive history and with that I lost the need to rely on the authority of our mythical ancestors in Classical civilization.

My interests changed, and I began to find more stories I could be proud of today (go see my Goodreads shelf to find some) and saw ancient Greek myths interesting primarily as a cross-culture comparison. And, for a few years there, I was allowed to read these myths in exquisite detail. But now that I do not, and now that I am surrounded by so many more cultures with rich mythologies to learn from, I am not sure what my new connection to this will be.


7 responses to “Getting Over the Greeks”

  1. Well, if you feel you’ve exhausted the females in Greek mythology, why not tackle the females in other mythologies? Get on a Norse kick for a while or even Aztec (if you dare). I don’t know. I certainly don’t think I’m one to advise you at all, your knowledge of mythology being so far beyond mine, but it seems like you had so much fun detailing the Greeks, that you might have some fun doing another culture. When it comes down to it, I don’t believe you need to blog and study mythology to be a stronger person, but to just enjoy life and have fun.

    Just my two cents worth (well, one cent now – you know, the economy and all…). Maybe you could apply for a bail out and get some funding…

  2. hay i love your website and mythology. and i have learned a lot from this site 😉 (my favorite is Athena)

  3. Neat post and questions.

    Facts seem to me that actually much of modern western (Anglophone?) culture is not over the Greeks.
    Who were probably not over coming to terms with the ‘barbarians’ and natural phenomena they shared their world with.

    Some 20-25% of the English language has Greek roots, and some of those words/concepts are deeply woven into important aspects of life and the way we talk about and perceive the world – idea, music, rhythm, theory, academy, thesis, crisis, ambrosia, analgesia, poly……., scholar, school, diabolical, idiot, guitar, chaos, democracy, physical, phenomena… with thousands more.
    If you believe language molds the way we ‘see’ the world, we’re all wearing Greek rose coloured glasses, but don’t realise.
    Well other times there’s a heap of other influences on language, but few so deep and ancient.

    Loved your site for years and irregular blog visitor.
    There’s always more than where we’ve always been, inside or out.


  4. Hey there!
    I just had to say that I stumbled across your site while doing research for a school assignment on Persephone and I just laughed and laughed at your article!! Best thing I’ve found on the internet in a while!
    Keep doing what your doing cause it sure is making Greek mythology fun!!
    PLUS my friends and I learnt a lot too! Always a bonus 🙂
    Thanks heaps

  5. Hey, I was looking for meaningfull greek names and found your website. I also love greek myths since ever and I’m pretty interested in reading about it. And i just LOVED it! And also loved your blog! So, please, keep bothering to write here. Congratulations, this site is very good and clear!
    P.S.: I’m brazilian and I love Orpheu Negro too. 😉

  6. I just stumbled today upon your site and found it to be a pretty good compendium on greek mythology (and mostly female).
    I don’t find it sad for you to move on to other cultures. As inhabitant of a spanish-speaking country, a lot of aspects from the latin (greek & roman) world permeated our culture and language.

    It would be awesome if you check out Celtic mythology (I find it pretty engaging) and of course some Aztec and Mayan myths (both are kinda intertwined)

  7. Mark and Gaby – you know, one of the early sites that really inspire me was by PJ Criss and was a huge thing with characters from all different world mythologies. I’ve occasionally considered doing something similar, but then I think of other sites out there (like pantheon.org and wikipedia) and wonder what the point would be if not just for my own edification (which, while definitely enough sometimes, doesn’t work at the moment when I’m so overwhelmed with other things)

    Wendy, Justine, and Luanda – Thanks! Comments like that really make me want to keep trying.

    mythatic – you’re absolutely right. There’s a ton more to be said, but I’m struggling to find what there is to say in ME. I’m not sure if that makes sense, but, either way, I appreciate your thoughtful comment.

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