Zeus at the Olympic Games (2)

1 nov.


Family values

Hera was the First Lady, but her marriage with Zeus was not so happy. One may understand: the number of goddesses was limited, while Zeus’ libido was a renewable resource. Inevitably, he got bored before long. After profound reflection, he concluded that loving the same woman for thousands of years was indeed an unbearable responsibility.

Consequently, Zeus had to be creative as to the ways and means to overcome midlife crisis. He made steady efforts to seduce various mortal (but inevitably younger) good-looking women. This may have affected his public image but, as he did not run for free and fair elections, the issue was inconsequential at that time. On the contrary, his escapades were a blessing for the arts, as the future history of painting would testify at a later stage.

To make his erotic encounters more entertaining, Zeus played many roles. The most gracious one was to turn into a swan, to seduce Leda. He was also quite impressive when he turned into an eagle to break the heart of Aegina. However, he did not hesitate, when necessary, to take less stylish impersonations, like being a bull to entertain Europa or a satyr to accede to the private charms of Antiope.

These picturesque stances indeed proved inspirational and thought-provoking for posthumous painters. However, for Hera they appeared as disgraceful behaviour. She became quite hysterical. The poor cheated wife was too dignified to proceed alike, although ephebes with no particular lucrative occupations were not missing in the agoras of Greek city-states. She opted for the policy of revenge. Not against Zeus, but more conveniently against the mortal lovers of her royal husband and their bastards.

Back to the Olympics

Against this background, let us say that despite doubtful matrimonial records of the ruling family, Zeus was still feared and respected for his lightning, thunders and other fire-power. Not for his values, as the United States is at present. After all, the human specimens on Earth were no better, given their record of fierce wars and rape, lacking any artistic sparkle.

Why would they judge the private lives of their superiors?

This goes for us, too. Let us stick to the public affairs side of the Olympics.

The Greeks were pragmatic and made the best use of the Games. Apart from engagement of leaders in multilateral talks, armies were forbidden from entering the host city-state, wars were halted for a while, and the use of the death penalty was forbidden. Unlike in our days, despite United Nations resolutions calling for moratoria on capital punishment and the use of electric chairs for peaceful purposes only. In addition, the Olympic truce was meant to allow athletes and civilians to travel safely to the games, in anticipation of the Schengen arrangements.

Zeus did not compete, but some better trained Olympian gods engaged in wrestling, jumping and running contests. Alas, freelance investigations proved that some Gods used trickery to help their disciples win competitions. Much to his disrepute, for example, Poseidon unfairly assisted a fellow named Pelops to win the gold medal at the chariots race. We had to wait till 1896 to hear Pierre de Coubertin say that in the Olympic Games it is important to take part, not to win.

As you may argue, in the absence of Gods and the French baron, at present, athletes use new methods to get to the podium or to the money, such as doping and match fixing.

Did you say freelance? Oh, yes! It seems that Lance Armstrong may have been aware of mythological bad practices in sport, but he has not heard of Pierre de Coubertin despite his frequent visits to France. Lance is free, but his seven Tour de France titles have vanished like the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World.

Petru Dumitriu


6 răspunsuri to “Zeus at the Olympic Games (2)”

  1. Luana N. 2 noiembrie 2012 la 0:43 #

    I am happy to see that you are writing also in English, which makes my task easier – I do not need to over-use google.translate! -.
    Btw, it was a really nice reading! Loved the mix between ancient mythology and current issues (and as an Europeanist I loved the comparison with the „Schengen arrangements”!)
    I will keep reading your stories!


    • Petru Dumitriu 2 noiembrie 2012 la 21:00 #


      I am glad I put a smile on your face, Luana.

      Well, with a bit of imagination, it is not so difficult to make connections between the Ancient Greece and the contemporary Europe. We owe a lot to the ancient Greeks, not only the Olympic Games. We could save some money and pay their current debts.

      Please, please, do not use the Google translation from Romanian to English! It is a recipe for disaster. This blog is for my compatriots and it is, among others, an attempt to show that the Romanian language can be used correctly and in full obeisance to harsh rule of the God Grammar.

      Adding a post in English is an experiment, it does not change the initial intention. Most of the Romanian users of this blog do also speak English anyway.

      Yet, the posts written in Romanian are not supposed to convey precise information easily translatable. The actual information is only used as a pretext to convey an idea, a nuance, a touch, and to stimulate a smile, when possible.

      The Google machine cannot translate such things. If you don’t believe me, translate the text on Zeus in Italian, the Google way.

      It was you, the Italians, who said traduttore, traditore, but I suspect Google does not care too much about the Romanian language and may not only betray it, but even insult it.

  2. cititoarea fidela 2 noiembrie 2012 la 12:57 #

    A big like and thanks for this most cognitive and entretaining article, dear Peter. I hope, and it seems, that you are in the hign spirits and good mood. On our side, everything is alright. Now for a good part of humans; especially of European descent, is the season to stick up with the merry Bacchus. We are trying not to let him down…:)

    • Petru Dumitriu 2 noiembrie 2012 la 21:02 #

      (Cititoarea fidelă)

      It appears that Dionysos / Bachus survived the twilight of the Gods and still has power upon us. He was not invited at the Olympics, but he was invoked twice in this blog. No wonder if, one day, we see him among the sponsors of the Games.

      Anyway, it seems that this year was good for Bachus and for his supporters. The new wine will also be a good old wine.

      • DUMNEZEU 20 noiembrie 2012 la 12:55 #

        Rămâne cum am stabilit! Până atunci îţi mai pun o videoclipă de eternitate.

      • DUMNEZEU 20 noiembrie 2012 la 13:06 #

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