Voice and Respect


I just got an email that brings up what I think is a very important point, and one that I give a great deal of thought to. Rather than attempt to summarize, I will include the email and my response in their entirety here.

From: JC
Subject: Goddess Aphrodite
To: ailiathena@yahoo.com
Date: Monday, August 18, 2008, 5:19 PM

I was very disappointed in your wording describing the most elegant and beautiful Goddess ( in my opinion), Aphrodite.  Although, the summary of her “life” is well thought out and the pictures are beautiful as well.

I began reading the  Marriage portion first and I was surprised, to say the least, that you used “low class” words such as;  “getting it on”, “pissed off”, “laughing their butts off”.  Needless to say I stopped at that point and had to write hoping you will replace the words to be suitable for the lovely and fair, Aphrodite.

I hope that when I return the Goddess Aphrodite can and will be proud.

Dear JC,

I think I appreciate where you’re coming from. It sounds – please correct me if I’ve misunderstood – that my descriptions seem to you to be disrespectful to Aphrodite and perhaps also to Her worshipers.

It is a difficult thing for me to respond to. On the one hand, the last thing I would ever want to do is insult anyone LEAST  of all a goddess. Furthermore, I certainly agree with you that Aphrodite is undeniably beautiful and classy. On the other hand, my choice of words is not unintentional, nor are my irreverent – or “low class” if you prefer – colloquialisms. I have a few different goals with this website, but one of the biggest is to engage younger and less informed readers. Secondarily, I seek to bring some of that ancient mythical world into the realm of possibility for contemporary readers, well-read or otherwise. And finally, obviously all of the myths that we have recorded come to us from aristocratic ancient Greek writers, but the deities, Aphrodite in particular, were by no means worshiped only by aristocrats. Remember that she is also the patron Goddess of prostitutes and not just upper class courtesans or priestess prostitutes, either. Remembering her as ONLY elegant is, I think, to lessen the profound impact that she had on her celebrants. Beyond that, if you read the myths in the original sources (check out the References page for more about where), I think it is clear that all was not cucumber sandwiches and croquet in many of the myths of Aphrodite (or, indeed, ANY of the Olympian gods).

I hope that you understand why I will not be changing my descriptions and accept my sincerest apologies if they have offended.



4 responses to “Voice and Respect”

  1. It was your approach to the Greek deities (and your engaging writing style) that instantly warmed me to your blog the first time I read your posts.

    I understand that the gods should be respected, but I do not always see the myths and devotion/worship to a deity as the same thing. Sure, you cannot totally disassociate myth from religious practice, but the gods and goddesses, were themselves, inc’ Aphrodite, were sometimes pretty irreverent themselves.

    Then again I’m kind of biased. Recently, we’ve (my girlfriend and I) have been reading and discussing Greek tragedy, and I was using pretty similar language as yourself. “pissed off” came up quite a few times. The Greek deities were often “pissed off” big time.

    No disrespect to JC.

  2. That’s a relief. And, as a general response to your comment, word.

  3. Hi, Ailia! I’ve Nominated you for the Bloglove award that’s going around.

    Bright Blessings!

  4. Awww … thanks! I’ll get around to responding and posting about it this week!

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